Vanessa Sakong, Hannah Suh, Kaixi Wan
8 August 2018
Perceived Spaces Group Research Paper
Chelsea is one of the trendiest neighborhoods of New York City. It is known for its
beautiful apartments, art galleries, trendy restaurants, clothing stores, and the Highline. Our
group decided hone in on the Meatpacking District of Chelsea for this project. It extends from
West 14th street south to Gansevoort Street and from the Hudson River east to Hudson Street.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, a famous contemporary art museum, is another popular
destination. The night life is equally as compelling.
The name of this area derives from the surplus of excess slaughterhouses and meat-packing
plants that were prevalent in the 1900’s. At this time, 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants
filled the district, and these houses produced the nation’s third-largest volume of dressed meat.
Today, only five meat-packing companies remain.
The Meatpacking District is full of history and has rapidly transformed into the
fashionable neighborhood that it is today. Numerous buildings were once used for warehouses or
factories. In the late 1980’s-1990’s the area was the center for drug dealing, prostitution, and
underground sex clubs. The transition when more high-end retailers and stylish stores moved in
began in the late 1990’s. Artists and galleries came to Chelsea around this time. An area that was
once a wasteland is now very expensive and the hip place to be. This is an example of
gentrification at its finest.
I will be doing a mixed media piece inspired by Shepard Fairey’s earliest works in Chelsea. When I looked up his works in Chelsea when he first moved to the neighborhood, I saw mostly street art. I appreciate his vibrant colors and I think he is so successful in creating cohesion throughout his pieces because of his consistent use of repetition. I want to replicate his repetition in my work and use vivid colors. I will be getting a lot of inspiration from his style choices. I noticed that Fairey usually uses people as his subjects. I want to focus my subject on an object instead probably an accessory to symbolize the transition of the Meatpacking District into the fashionable district it is now. I am better and hand drawing and creating my pieces so I will create the repetition of the symbol of Chelsea I choose through a block print stamp. Moreover, I was inspired by the interactive art that we viewed at the Cooper Hewitt Museum. Interactive art is so intimate and your experience will not be the same as another person’s. I want to incorporate some interactive art by pasting on pieces of fabric that I have left in my house since I am a fashion design major to personalize my piece.
This district has undergone tremendous change within a short period of time. The
district has gone from a blue-collar warehouse to a trendy neighborhood. It reminds me of the
ephemeral nature that is life. I want to focus on the idea of change, whether it be for better or
worse. In order to demonstrate this, I will work with layers because layers reveal age, much like
the trunks of trees or fresh paint on an old wall. When it comes to history, I believe that it’s
important to embrace and never erase what has existed. Photographer Brian Rose recalls his
memory of the district back in the day. He says the area was devoid of people during the day,
utterly still, and only early in the morning was the market in full swing, with white-coated men
grappling with carcasses of meat hanging from hooks. He recalls catching glimpses of the
nighttime scene, of prostitutes and sex clubs frequented by leather clad men. I wonder if people
find themselves missing the older version of the city. For example, the Highline has been
accused of putting gentrification into hyperdrive and destroying the surrounding
area. Nonetheless, the ever-changing nature of life is inevitable, and I find beauty in that.