Five years ago George Ferrandi reached a turning point. Like many life-changing moments in New York, this one was real estate induced. She was about to be kicked out of the Williamsburg, Brooklyn studio she’d been living and working in for 10 years.
“I looked back and thought, I just kept my head above water here, but I didn’t contribute to my community,” says Ferrandi (B.F.A. ‘93). So Ferrandi created Wayfarers Studio Program, a community of 10 artist studios, woodworking shop and gallery from an old textile factory in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Ferrandi links her drive directly to her undergraduate years, “VCU was so community-focused. And there was an emphasis on resourcefulness and problem solving, an anything-is-possible approach supported by the faculty that continues to be important to me.”
Ferrandi’s goal with Wayfarers was to not only to offer affordable studios to artists, but a support system as well. “It’s hard to stay focused – especially in New York,” says Ferrandi.
She curates events and monthly exhibitions in the gallery space to give artists a way to get their art into the world that’s an alternative to the commercial galleries. A recent exhibition was a crowd-sourced ransom note with 350 participants; the final note with each word contributed by a different person was installed on the gallery wall.
“I want to do interesting things for the community but I also want to prioritize my studio practice,” she says.
Ferrandi recently returned from a fellowship in Japan where she studied traditional illuminated paper sculpture making which she’s incorporating into her next project, a large-scale festival to celebrate the changing of the North Star called “Jump! Star.” She’s pulled in a percussionist, choreographer, animator, poet and other partners with the idea to create traditions that could be used to celebrate the new polestar each millennia when it changes.
“I became fascinated by the idea that the North Star changes,” says Ferrandi. “That’s an epic event and we should be thinking how to recognize it.”
Leading up to the big event she has held performances with audience participation in New Orleans, Brooklyn and Tokyo that she describes as “celestial séances.”
Image: Provided by Ferrnadi, from her Synchronized Sound Plays project. “STAR! STAR! STAR! CIRCLE!” International House of Japan, Tokyo. 2015