The Ninth Annual “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” season kicked off this week with the unveiling of a new Flatiron Plaza art installation, Point of Action. The public art piece invites New Yorkers to contemplate connections with each other amid the COVID-19 pandemic and to move forward together. Designed by Nina Cooke John of Studio Cooke John, Point of Action is part of the 23 Days of Flatiron Cheer campaign to support local businesses in the Flatiron and NoMad.

Photograph by Cameron Blaylock

The interactive piece provides multiple opportunities for connection with fellow viewers and with passersby while maintaining a safe social distance. Six-foot circles affixed onto the Flatiron Public Plazas create nine “spotlights,” each with its own vertical metal frame. Ropes weave through each frame and part, like a curtain figuratively pulled aside, to make room for the viewer to take the spotlight, connect with other viewers across the Plazas, and take action as they move out and beyond. Lighting emitted from a halo above each circle strengthens the framing; lights embedded into the sides of each frame add another layer to the viewer. Pieces of the installation were crafted by fabricator Charlie Spademan of Spademan Fabrication and NY Lighting Group, which is donating in-kind fabrication services. Along with Nina Cooke John, lighting consultant Jimmie Drummond of Drummond Projects and installation contractor Kathy Lysikowska-Diaz of KLD NY Inc. worked on the project.

Point of Action art installation in FlatironPhotograph by Cameron Blaylock

“We are at a threshold during this pandemic. Now that our eyes have been opened to realities that have been with us all along, how do we move forward? My hope is that Point of Action makes people think about how we connect to the people we see every day so that we can move forward together,” said Nina Cooke John, Founder and Principal of Studio Cooke John. Studio Cooke John is a multidisciplinary design studio with a broad range of expertise that values placemaking as a way to transform relationships between people and the built environment. The studio was chosen by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership and Van Alen Institute from a shortlist of seven other firms as the winner of the Flatiron Public Plaza Holiday Design Competition, a competition which has been running since 2014.

Cooke John’s Flatiron Plaza art installation is the first to be spread throughout both the North and South Plazas. This expanded space allows for safe distancing, while also staying connected, as each circle is part of the larger network. “This year has been a profound exercise in finding new ways of connecting, from embracing video calls to coming together in social action. With Point of Action, Studio Cooke John powerfully captures the importance of building new connections and community, which are critical to our city’s resilience,” said Deborah Marton, Executive Director, Van Alen Institute, “We’re honored to collaborate with the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership to activate this iconic plaza, especially as our outdoor public spaces have proven essential to our wellbeing.”

Photograph by Cameron Blaylock

 “23 Days of Flatiron Cheer” is presented by the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership BID. From Tuesday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 23, the campaign will feature digital giveaways, gift guides, deals, and more, to support local Flatiron and NoMad retailers and restaurants. Point of Action will be on view through January 1, 2021 in the Flatiron Public Plazas on Broadway, Fifth Avenue, and 23rd Street in Manhattan. Don’t forget to tag #PointofAction and @UntappedNY on Twitter and Instagram when you share images of the installation!

Next, check out 12 New Public Art Installations in NYC November 2020