Amant Foundation’s Sprawling New Headquarters in East Williamsburg Bring A Massive Space Dedicated To Nurturing Artists

Amant Foundation’s Sprawling New Headquarters in East Williamsburg Bring A Massive Space Dedicated To Nurturing Artists

The Amant Foundation, a non-profit arts organization that debuted in 2020 with its artist residency in Siena, Italy, has made its official home in East Williamsburg.

Amant exterior, under construction, April 2021. Courtesy of the Amant Foundation.

On June 5th, Amant will open the doors to its sprawling new multi-building ‘art campus,’ a 21,000 square foot complex designed by New York-based architecture firm SO-IL, and consisting of four different buildings connected by a series of walkways and courtyards. The space will open with “Heroines, Birds and Monsters,” a solo exhibition of work by Grada Kilomba, a Portuguese artist and writer of West African descent whose work explores legacies of slavery and colonialism.

Grada Kilomba, Heroines, Birds and Monsters series, Sphinx Act II, 2020, C- Print, 60x40in. © Grada Kilomba. Courtesy the artist, the Amant Foundation, and Goodman Gallery.

While exhibitions like Kilomba’s will form part of Amant’s programming, Amant is primarily focused on giving artists the time and space to conduct research and to “crucially engage with their work,” the website states. One example of this is the NY Residency, a program that forms the “core” of Amant’s work, explained Curator of Public Programs and Associate Director of the NY Residency Program, Juana Berrío. Over the course of three seasons – fall, winter, and spring – three groups of four residents will spend three months at Amant developing their own research project, which they were asked to include in their application. Unlike many residencies, however, Founder and CEO Lonti Ebers told Bklyner, the program is not necessarily geared toward producing a piece of physical work.

“Amant quite intentionally does not require residents to present a ‘final product’ in the form of an exhibition,” said Ebers. Rather, “we prioritize artists’ long-term intellectual and creative growth.”

“It is a space dedicated really to artists,” Berrío said.

Out of the 1,400 applications that Amant received in an open call last year, the committee selected twelve artists whom they felt would most benefit from access to the rich assortment of archives and other resources New York has to offer. Other than that, there are no restrictions on who can apply, aside from the rule that applicants can’t reside in New York.

“We are especially interested in supporting artists who don’t fit any neat categories, who would not otherwise have the means to develop their practice — or even make it to New York,” said Ebers.

The vast majority of this year’s residents come from outside the U.S., Artistic Director Ruth Estévez told Bklyner; artists will be traveling to New York from places like Uganda, Palestine, and Norway. Residents, whose names will be announced in several weeks, Estévez said, were selected based on their research idea, a topic they’ve already begun working on but require time and physical space to develop. The artists will each have access to studio space at Amant, as well as a generous stipend, which, Estévez said, is intended to help them focus on their work without the worry of expenses.

Amant Founder and CEO Lonti Ebers with Artistic Director Ruth Estévez on site at Amant, March 2021. Photo: Lyndsy Welgos. Courtesy of the Amant Foundation.

The artists – an intentionally diverse group spread across different disciplines, age groups, and career stages – will have ample opportunity to exchange ideas with each other as well as with the Brooklyn community at large; residents will get to see Brooklyn through the eyes of local artists, who will take them on tours of some of their favorite places throughout the borough.

“We want to be able to explore Brooklyn, and all the histories and people and communities and different layers of cultures that this city has to offer,” said Berrío.

Residents will benefit from these different types of exchange, she said.

“It’s this kind of cross-pollination that happens very naturally I think when you have artists coexisting in the same space where art is exhibited, and where art is discussed and where art is being presented to the public.”

Besides the Kilomba exhibition, Amant will also offer live performance events and screenings at Géza, an 1,800 square foot multipurpose building on campus, as well as discussion-based events with international and local artists. Spread across two blocks, the different spaces are connected by a series of public walkways and courtyards, and the campus also includes several gallery spaces, a coffee shop, a bookstore, and a library. The main public entrance is at 315 Maujer Street in East Williamsburg. All programs are free and open to the public.