nyc makers

September is here, which in New York City means a lot of things: School is about to begin in the nation’s largest public school system, serving 1.1 million students across 1,800 schools; Labor Day has passed, so the first wave of Chelsea art gallery openings – and in many other neighborhoods too – is about to overwhelm that part of town; summer is coming to a close and with it certain seasonal services will change schedule; and most importantly, World Maker Faire is nearly here!

If you live in NYC, you know that World Maker Faire has become a staple of an event for the city, providing a backdrop to making throughout the five boroughs, the east coast regionally, and around the world. If you are planning to be in NYC the third weekend this month for the 5th annual World Maker Faire, you’ve made a great choice. This year promises to be our biggest and best yet. There are many stellar presentations lined up, along with first glimpse of several product launches and more hands-on activities than a Hecatoncheires could enjoy.

Whether you live here or you’re visiting, if you’re looking for extracurricular activities around World Maker Faire weekend, we’ll be announcing plenty in the days and weeks ahead. But there’s one stand-out space and event I can’t recommend enough: NYC Makers is the inaugural biennial at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD Museum), on view through October 12. Ushering in a new series of biennials is great, and focusing that inaugural show on borough-based makers is fantastic! The movement is beginning to be recognized as a confluence of crafts and cultures, from woodworking to electronics, from DIY music to installation arts, and more.

Comprised of 100 makers from all five boroughs, the exhibition spans the museum including the lobby, stairwells, and elevators. The concentration of works are on the fourth and fifth floors, broken up into thematic zones addressing topics like “studio and factory” (think Andy Warhol and the influence of “The Factory”), “backstage” (perhaps the most contemporary maker space in the show), “hall of tools,” and more. Work can be seen on the floor or hung from the ceilings as equally as on the walls, and it is in the main galleries that even the security guards wear custom-made vests designed by Eckhaus Latta.

Of course the work by a mere 100 makers is by no means comprehensive of what goes on in NYC. It’s only the tip of the tip of the iceberg in this city that has more residents than 3/4 of the states in the republic. And the catalog that accompanies the exhibition, penned by their newly appointed Director Glenn Adamson, acknowledges this.

“Our exhibition cannot hope to do full justice to the makers of New York City; there are hundreds, if not thousands, of others whom we could have featured in our galleries.”

I’d suggest without hesitation it’s in the many many thousands. While World Maker Faire consists of makers from around the world, it’s not surprising how often the makers who apply are from the many neighborhoods and towns here, and how far and deep the term ‘making’ can be applied to everything from food and crafts to engineering and education. The catalog foreword clearly acknowledges this too, saying, “the ongoing vitality of the city’s creative economy rests in their hands.” In other words, this place is mad for makers.

Like the exhibition that is itself a snapshot of making, arts, and design, I can only offer a snapshot of that snapshot. Some works are immersive and must be experienced in person. Workshops are also happening throughout the course of the exhibition that address equally the industries of fashion, special effects, and brewing delicious coffee. As I experienced throughout the show and accompanying workshops, the exhibition was pretty much nothing that I expected it to be, and most works pleasantly surprised me.

At times more art than anything, at times more design, and at times more maker, NYC Makers is guaranteed to shift the perspective on what making means, to you, to the New Yorkers who made this show, and beyond.

"in flux" quadrant on the 5th floor, featuring SITU Studio, papabubble New York, littleBits, Let There Be Neon, and many more

“in flux” quadrant on the 5th floor, featuring SITU Studio, papabubble New York, littleBits, Let There Be Neon, and many more

Equipment-Clark Expedition, 2012, by Mark Dion

Equipment-Clark Expedition, 2012, by Mark Dion

Pawn Tomorrow by The Extrapolation Factory

Pawn Tomorrow by The Extrapolation Factory

100 Arrows, 2014, by Fredericks & Mae

100 Arrows, 2014, by Fredericks & Mae

Architecture at Large and Rafael de Cárdenas

Architecture at Large and Rafael de Cárdenas

Custom museum crate, 2014, by Boxart

Custom museum crate, 2014, by Boxart

Echolocation Headphones (on head) and Play-A-Grill (around neck) by Aisen Caro Chacin

Echolocation Headphones (on head) and Play-A-Grill (around neck) by Aisen Caro Chacin

Cannibal Mécanique, 2014, by Victoria Keddie

Cannibal Mécanique, 2014, by Victoria Keddie

Pink Perch, 2013, by François Chambard

Pink Perch, 2013, by François Chambard

J&M Special Effects

J&M Special Effects

S-Kalofría No.05, 2005, by Arnaldo Morales

S-Kalofría No.05, 2005, by Arnaldo Morales

The DephKit, 2014, by Specular

The DephKit, 2014, by Specular

Yemenwed | I yearn for hair like hers

Yemenwed | I yearn for hair like hers

NYC Makers is on view through October 12 at the Museum of Arts and Design, located at 2 Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

Full list of participating makers: Lindsey Adelman, Laurie Anderson, Ei Arakawa/Aki Takahashi/Sergei Tcherepnin, Aranda/Lasch, Carlos Benaim, Best Made Company®, Zach Blas, Other Means, Blue Bottle Coffee, Scott Bodenner, Boxart Inc., Boym Partners Inc., The Brasslab, Lady Bunny, A.K. Burns & Katherine Hubbard, Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large, Aisen Caro Chacin, Joseph Cavalieri, Chen Chen & Kai Williams, Nicole Cherubini, Ryan Matthew Cohn, Tommy Coleman, CONFETTISYSTEM, Keetra Dean Dixon & JK Keller, Mark Dion, Faye Driscoll, Miriam Ellner, The Extrapolation Factory, Karen Finley, Ben-Gal founder of FLATCUT_, Flavor Paper, Fodera Guitars, Fort Standard, FPOAFM Studios, Fredericks & Mae, Benjamin Fredrickson, David Galbraith, Brett Ginsburg, Charles Goldman, Marvin Goldman, (Phil Groman, Surya Mattu, Robin Reid, and Federico Zannier), Harriet Rosebud, John Hatleberg, Paula Hayes, H E I D I L E E, Hood by Air, Natalie Jeremijenko, J&M Special Effects, Misha Kahn, Victoria Keddie, Kings County Distillery, Ana Kraš, Steven & William Ladd, Jeffrey Landman, Eckhaus Latta, Let There Be Neon, littleBits, Phillip Low, Lower East Side Printshop, Martinez Hand Rolled Cigars, Ohad Meromi, Les Métalliers Champenois Corp., Metropolitan Opera, MILGO/BUFKIN, Marilyn Minter, Donald Moffett, Meredith Monk, Arnaldo Morales, Raúl De Nieves, Michele Oka Doner, papabubble New York, Sally Ann Parsons, Chris Pellettieri, Gaetano Pesce, Jason Polan, Ralph Pucci, Isa Rodrigues, Jason Sapan, Miriam Simun, SITU Studio, Spectacle Theater, Specular, Jesse Hlebo / Swill Children, Ginger Brooks Takahashi, Hank Willis Thomas/Lower East Side Printshop, Thunder Horse Video, Elaine Tin Nyo, UM Project, Amanda Wachob, Leslie Wayne, Richard Webber, Sylvia Weinstock, Welcome to Night Vale, Paul Wong / Dieu Donné, Caroline Woolard and BFAMFAPhD, Naomi Yasuda, Yemenwed, YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND, Jeff Zimmerman, Or Zubalsky