Today, personal narratives are largely communicated, digitally. And a small graduate program at City College in West Harlem impacts these trends by blending movement, photography, printing, spatial mapping, and more to tell meaningful stories across disciplines.

A partnership between West Harlem Art Fund and this MFA program makes such stories more accessible. In this way, these students have embraced the island’s history, its narrative environment, and local culture.


Participating students are:

Wenjun Chen

Wenjun II

Wenjun II explores self-identity in the rapidly developing world of the internet and technology. The biggest issue of concern is Technoself Studies. Issues include avatars, digital identity and virtual life, privacy and surveillance, personalized robots, and social integration of artificial creatures. The project starts with my memory and later develops into the exploration of the mutual relationship between information and materiality.

Robert Duarte-Rivera

Surface with Strata “For Governors Island”

This installation focuses on the names that the island has held over the course of its history. The earliest name given to the island is connected with the natural resources that the island provides. As settler colonial powers encountered the island, they inhabited it and utilized it as a physical point to establish and maintain power. One of the ways that power was exercised was by changing the name of the place–first, the name was changed to a direct translation, and that translation was translated again directly after a second group of settlers arrived. However, this group decided to do away with translation and impose a new identity on the island, one that we still see the remnants of today. Language and letterforms are powerful examples of history and

Art Jones


After the abolition of slavery in 1827, New York became a major force in the illegal slave trade, dealing with the American Southern states, Brazil, and Cuba. The city benefited much from this traffic in humans: southern cotton and sugar sailed to Europe from New York Harbor, which is the body of water surrounding Governors Island. Major financial institutions including Aetna, JP Morgan Chase, and New York Life actively did business with slaveholders and slave ship owners, and traders and builders were responsible for outfitting and repairing slave ships.

Traffic will explore this history through objects, images, and sounds. The installation will include a series of small sculptures derived from the sound of the waters of New York Harbor, and reproductions of woodcuts and illustrations from the period. Placing a smartphone near the objects or images will reveal sounds of the harbor and and a short video piece, providing an interactive experience of this hidden history.

Victor Pinnock

Nesting Branches

3D printed installation that is site specific. Using the environment, animals and plants around Nolan Park as inspiration. The main idea is to connect nature, clone trees, and help feed animals or insects.

Fatima Sabeekah

‘Contemplation Shrine’ Series 1/10

This installation investigates the state of a human mind after it has loss a loved one. The numbness. A sombering existence. This work emerges from a person’s healing and coping mechanisms.

Governor’s island is a space that provides peace and fulfills the definition of my ‘safe space’.

After covid there has been an increase in depression globally. History approves of the loss of masses through various disease outbreaks including the ‘yellow fever’ outbreak in 1795 which killed many soldiers stationed at the island. This piece is designed to give a sense of calmness and tranquility where the individual can find comfort and solace in the visual representation of a safe space.

Yiyuan Tang

The Dawn of Time

The wars that happened back in the day when religions were the main power of a country were mostly because of their differences and disagreement on certain beliefs. However, that was a long time ago and hasn’t happened for a long time. Right now people from all around the world can be together in one country without fighting each other, accepting and respecting each other is a huge progress of humanity. In this video, I put several religious songs and chantings  into one track and made them sound harmonious. The background of the video is mimicking DaVinci’s famous last supper painting. In the center of the video there is a silhouette of a unicorn, I named him/her Shimmer. Shimmer is a figure that I created to represent God in most of my videos. There are several red dots that show up on the screen, I placed these red dots as planets in the Galaxy to represent the peace and harmony of the universe.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s