A New America
Curated by Zahra Sherzad
Broadway Plaza at 42nd Street
The sibling artist duo ICY and SOT contribute to global urban art culture through murals, interventions, video, and installations focusing on human rights, capitalism, ecological justice, and social and political issues. Born in Tabriz, Iran, they hold a mirror to ongoing statewide censorship in Iranian society. Their provocative and rebellious stance led the state of Iran to ban the brothers from returning to their home country. ICY and SOT transcend their experience of artistic and political censorship by using public art to envision a world free from borders, war, and violence.
A New America (2017) is an American flag made of steel bars and fencing material mounted on a pole. The materials evoke the physical barriers that immigrants face as they try to enter America, from fencing at the U.S.–Mexican border to cells in which some migrants and asylum-seekers are detained.
“Despite the harsh reality, A New America also conveys America’s grace and beauty. The clean lines create a silhouette, allowing the sky in the background to come through to give a hopeful feeling. Times Square is a perfect setting, as it is a symbol of the American dream. The location enhances the beauty of the work by incorporating the New York skyline as the backdrop.”
—ICY and SOT
“Fueled by their personal experiences as immigrants, ICY and SOT wanted to create work that will express their frustration about how rushed and insensitive decisions can tremendously affect an infinite number of innocent and often desperate people.”
From March 5–31, 2019, Times Square Arts and SPRING/BREAK Art Show present Times Square Immersive. A New America is one of four outdoor sculptures that blur reality and fantasy with delight and warning on the Broadway Plazas in Times Square.
ICY and SOT (born 1985 and 1991, Tabriz, Iran) reside in Brooklyn, New York. The two brothers started creating stencils in 2006. Their work appears on walls and galleries throughout Iran, the U.S., Germany, China, Norway, and the world.
Zahra Sherzad (born 1977, Kabul, Afghanistan) is Head of Visual Arts for the Level Forward, a new breed media company, which commissions and presents public art projects. Her degree in Art History with a strong focus on sculpture led her to several years in leadership at the Isamu Noguchi Museum. Driven by contemporary art and activism, she became interested in contemporary art and began a career at the frontier of the Street Art movement, then pursued showing works of emerging artists in galleries, museums, and in the public sector. At the same time, she began to work in activism and philanthropy. Currently, she serves as Board Chair for The Heliotrope Foundation, founded by artist Swoon, to help communities respond and heal after natural disasters and other urgent humanitarian crises. Zahra continues to merge the two worlds of art and philanthropy together: "Through art we can create a platform to discuss and address social change."
Photo courtesy of Walter Wlodarczyk for Times Square Arts.