Photo Essay: LIC Works
From NYC Taxis to Jackson Pollock
City University of New York and LaGuardia Community College’s first President, Dr. Joseph Shenker, had the foresight in 1971 to “transform the old factory buildings of Long Island City’s declining industrial economy so that they could become the agent of change in the lives of a multitude of students.”
Professor Scott Sternbach, Director of Photography at LaGCC continued the college’s tradition of recognizing LIC’s industrial past and linking it to its students’ promising futures in the Long Island City Works Exhibit.
A sampling of 6 photos with student commentary follows.
The exhibit ran through February 2012.
(Lidiya Kan )
Steinway & Sons
Lidiya Kan Uses A Medium Format Camera
"When you think about a piano, not knowing how it’s made, you always think of something soft and light: a pianist.
Making pianos requires hard labor and heavy equipment not just light and pretty musician's hands.”
Ms. Kan came to New York to study advanced accounting at Baruch College following a Finance career in Russia. After a chance encounter Ms. Kan switched to LaGuardia to pursue her passion for photography.
Gowun Lee uses a Medium Format Camera
"People who come from other countries and imagine New York, they always think of yellow cabs. You see the yellow cabs in movies.
My friend came to visit me from Korea and said oh my god finally I got to see a yellow cab.
This is so New York."
Ms. Lee is from Busan, South Korea where she received a degree in tourism. After two years she enrolled in Hunter College to learn English and then in LaGCC's photography program.
(Elisa No Kim)
Jackson Pollock & Factory Workers
Elisa No Kim uses 35mm and Medium Format Cameras
"I was walking on Vernon Blvd and went into a coffee place because it looked interesting and I started talking to the manager and he said there is a famous photographer sitting over there; he introduced me to Tony Vacarro who is known for his photographs of Jackson Pollock."
(Elisa No Kim)
Jackson Pollock & Factory Workers -cont'd-
“I kind of relate to the workers in LIC because I'm a worker also and LIC has so many interesting factories and different kinds of people and being able to speak Spanish makes it easy for me to communicate with them."
Ms. Kim was born in Paraguay to Korean parents and came to New York 13 years ago. She is fluent in Spanish, Korean and English.
Artist Nick Horman (YoungKyu Park)
Kyu Park uses a 35mm Digital Camera
"Artists are usually fancy the way they present their art in a museum or gallery, but when they work, they work hard. They don't care about wearing nice clothes.
In a plain background you put a factory worker and artist together and I don’t feel like you can see much difference; they look the same.
Artists work really hard to make their pieces and we spend only a couple of seconds or minutes with it. I wanted to have a lot of context in my single picture of them so I can hold viewers a little longer and make them more interested."
YoungKyu Park has a business degree from South Korea and came to New York in 2005 to improve his English.
Long Island City circa 2011
LIC transitioned from an agricultural area to an industrial powerhouse with the advent of technology and access to shipping routes. As a result, LIC became a portal from Manhattan to the rest of the country.
In the 1800s the LIC landscape was dotted with car manufacturers, glue factories, the first gelatin producer, oil companies, bakeries, 19 newspapers and candy companies amongst many other industries.
The Steinway family introduced artisans to the area who built their world famous pianos and they also helped create a network of trolleys, a grid system and the #7 Flushing Line’s “Steinway Tunnel.” However, by the 1970s, the once vibrant industrial area found itself on a steady decline.
Roosevelt Island’s applied sciences campus, Long Island City's small businesses, tech companies, artists, vertical living and LaGuardia Community College will again be poised to make significant contributions to New York City and this country.
Panoramic photo taken by Lidiya Kan from the top of the Citi building in 2011.