This month, Human Connection Arts is bringing live, nude body painting to Bushwick on July 20 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Maria Hernandez Park. Over the past decade, founder Andy Golub has been painting naked bodies in public spaces all across the world. The goal: “to share who we are as human beings, to build a community accepting of ourselves and each other,” as presented in the organization’s mission statement.
Golub has always been an artist, finding himself painting on any surface he could get his hands on, from canvases to cars. After painting a mannequin one day, he decided that he wanted to try painting on the human body. “I found out that when I painted somebody, there’s almost a mental, psychic-like connection between you and them,” Golub told Bushwick Daily. After experimenting with body painting a handful of times, Golub “wanted to take the project outside and show people the transformation” that seems to happen, both physically and mentally.
Though he’s not a nudist, Golub loves the idea of using the naked body to celebrate the humanity we share with others. However, his public events haven’t always been embraced in the same way. In 2011, Golub was arrested for 25 hours, despite public nudity for the sake of art being legal in New York City. “It was an interesting experience,” he explained. “I don’t mind taking a little bit of heat if that’s what’s necessary for people to understand art.”
Human Connection Arts became a nonprofit organization in January of 2017 in order to further legitimize his practice. “I feel that art is charity, it brings people together,” Golub said. On the website, the organization claims to be “politically apolitical” and believe deeply that everyone should have a voice and that the dialogue created by free open expression will open doors of mutual respect, acceptance and community. Through the help of public and private funding, Golub and the board of trustees are able to continue to pursue this mission.
It was this event that brought Golub to establish July 20 as world body painting day, which this year will be celebrated in Maria Hernandez park. The event will feature around 30 artists and 40-50 models who will be painted between 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the park. After, the group will march through the neighborhood, taking photos and celebrating the transformation they just underwent.
Though Golub is excited to bring Human Connection Arts to an artist community, Times Square will always be his favorite place to paint. “In Times Square there are hundreds of giant billboards with sexualized bodies used in advertisements to sell things,” Golub said. “I’m doing the opposite. I want to make a statement that this space shouldn’t be controlled by the advertisers, it should be a place where we communicate.”
Not only is the event free and open for anyone in the neighborhood to witness, but Human Connection Arts also has an open call for those who want to be painted on their website. They also accept applications for artists, photographers, and videographers who would like to be a part of the event.
All images courtesy of Andy Golub and Human Connection Arts.
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