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New illuminated art going up on Barclays Center plaza - ‘We belong here ... You belong here’

In a recognition of how Barclays Center’s entrance plaza has become Brooklyn’s ad hoc town square, the Joe and Clara Wu Tsai Foundation is installing new illuminated art work emphasizing belonging on the plaza, Bloomberg reports.

Kriston Capps wrote of the artwork by Tavares Strachan and its theme...

Two neon signs, one pink and one white, are going up at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn, on the plaza outside the Barclays Center sports arena. “We belong here,” one declares. Its twin narrows the scope: “You belong here.”

“We belong here,” in pink will be installed on the front of the Barclays Center subway entrance, “You belong here,” in white on the entrance’s rear. The plaza has been the scene of a variety of protests and other gatherings starting with the 2020 demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And that is the rationale for the artwork which will be roughly 45-by-18-feet.

Clara Wu Tsai spoke with Bloomberg about that role and “belonging.”

“I’ve always been interested in the ideas of belonging. That really resonates with me,” says Wu Tsai, co-owner of the Nets and Liberty. “Even before George Floyd, I thought it was the perfect statement to put there, in the heart of Brooklyn.”

Belonging is also a theme of the Foundation’s Social Justice Fund, The Foundation established a $50 million Social Justice Fund last year to “support equitable growth and belonging for BIPOC Communities in Brooklyn.”

The piece will be completed by Saturday, October 23, the day before the Nets home opener vs. the Hornets, Capps wrote. A public celebration of the work will take place between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday evening.

The illuminated signage is designed by Strachan. a Bahamian-born artist based in New York. Per Bloomberg...

[Strachan] says that the font is a hybrid of his own handwriting and a calligraphy style he learned in high school (“as a side hustle”). Writing is a way to harness authority, he says, and as a child, practicing cursive, learning its cadence, meant wrestling with knowledge itself. Growing up listening to hip-hop and reggae, he realized that as you sing along to the lyrics, you becomes the personification of the words.

“With this piece, as you read it, you say it,” Strachan says. “It’s an affirmation, a call to action.”

Strachan and Wu Tsai first started talking about a collaboration three years ago, before the Floyd protests, he told Bloomberg. In 2014, Strachan also touched on the theme of belonging when he installed a work in neon on a barge that sailed down the Mississippi River in New Orleans.