Sarah E. Brook’s Artist Residency Illuminates Poly

Azure, emerald, and yellow green shadows lengthen or diminish as the sun moves across the sky and through the hallway windows as students walk to their classes.

As part of our Arts Partnerships program, over the course of three days in August, Brooklyn-based artist Sarah E. Brook, along with assistants, carefully applied vinyl in nine colors, all shades of blue and green, to the lower windows of the first floor front and side hallways of Poly’s main building in a site-specific installation, “WISHFUL”: how (where) do I see.  As part of Poly’s artist residency, Brook has also been commissioned to create a sculpture, “WORTHY”: how (who) do I stand, which will be installed on the hillside near the Memorial Garden this fall.

Students were pleasantly surprised when they came back to school and first experienced the installation. “I think it is pretty cool,” said Liam Lorenzo ‘28. “It’s a really nice change,” added Tolu Majekodunmi ‘24. “It’s kind of cool,” agreed Ella Leonard ‘22, who studied as the blue shadows fell nearby.

Laura Coppola ’95, P’29, P’35, the Charles, ’52 and Valerie Diker Chair of Visual Arts, explained to students that Brook “met with faculty, staff, and students in order to conceptualize works that would reflect our community spirit. After innumerable hurdles due to COVID, over the summer, Sarah had the opportunity to bring one of two planned projects to fruition.”

Sarah E. Brook blue hallway

“I was asked to design works based on conversations I had with students and faculty about their relationships with Poly,” Brook said, “both the physical and conceptual space of it. I had conversations with a lot of classes and faculty groups. The final works—the vinyl piece and hill sculpture—were developed after these conversations.”

“With countless ways to look, where do you choose to invest your vision?”

“‘WISHFUL’ utilizes the beautiful historic windows of the main building as a structure for the gradual progression of colored light,” Brook explained. “A walk down the hall offers opportunities to notice changes in your experience of seeing: the color itself, the way sunlight’s angle will push the color into the hall, the vinyl’s texture, which slightly obscures the clarity of the scene outside. With countless ways to look, where do you choose to invest your vision?”

“I want my work to make you think about how you see,” Brook explained in a posted artist statement about “WISHFUL.” “There is the literal experience of sight, the taking in of shape and color and light, and orienting yourself to that sensory context. Then there are the other aspects of seeing, of vision: Who am I in the world? What do I care about? What do I dream of? What are my responsibilities? What is difficult for me to see? How we choose to see and the way we take in the world around us makes each of us who we are. These works ask you to pause, to notice how you see, to take in the impact of your particular vision.”

Sarah E. Brook blue green hallway

Coppola said about Brook’s artist residency, “It has been fascinating to work with her through her creative process in ideating installations and sculptures that are a result of thoughtful conversations with our community. Personally, I love how the colored window installations (WISHFUL) completely transform the space in which we walk on a regular basis. They envelop us in art at all times. I hope that we all really take the chance to look into and out of those windows and see how each color can impact how we see the world around us.”

Sarah E. Brook blue green hallway
Sarah E. Brook
Coming This Fall: Uniting Art with Poly’s Landscape

We look forward to the installation this fall of Brook’s sculpture, “WORTHY.” Brook described the wood and lucite artwork, which measures 116” x 15” x 96,” as drawing from the architecture of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge and the Poly Tower. “The question posed by this piece,” Brook said, “relates to the way we claim space, the way we can challenge ourselves to think about the position and stature and structure of where we stand, and who we stand with. What are the particular angles that bring the light to life?”