mark j (they/them) 

Brookdale Battery Park
Arts Engagement for those 60+
New York, NY
2018 - Present  

But is it art?
Participatory art classes for those over the age of 60

Working in collaboration with Brookdale Battery Park, mark was invited to extend the contemporary art museum experience into a place of care.

Through a rigorously curated use of interactive seminars, open debate and workshopped presentations, classes meet monthly to discuss all that’s new, next and happening within the ever changing landscape of contemporary art. Uniquely, programming is driven by the residents. Each seminar is accompanied by published materials, research and interpretive resources.  

“I met mark when I brought a group of residents from Brookdale Battery Park to see the Sarah Lucas exhibition.  I am interested in sharing my love of Contemporary Art with Senior Citizens.  As I began to expose the residents to Contemporary artists, I found that many rejected anything after 1950 in spite of the high level of education and economic abundance that most possess.

The way in which mark engages with our seniors and shows respectful enthusiasm, doesn’t dumb things down or shy away from presenting charged material in a way that provokes debate and critical thinking, impresses me. When I continued the discussion with the residents after spending time with mark, and saw how enlivened they felt after the show.  I decided to see if mark could give a presentation on Contemporary Art for the larger community at Brookdale Battery Park..  I am happy to say that this has expanded to a lecture series.

mark’s lectures have been so well attended and received. This is particularly well done in that after the lectures, residents come to me with questions which I pass on to mark in order to generate the topic for the next lecture.  It’s a dynamic and relevant exchange that we are all very excited about.  These lectures are generating a lot of conversations among the residents, as well as giving them things to talk about with their children and grandchildren. They feel a sense of connection with the world when they have better understanding of articles that they see in the Times and other publications.

mark is an excellent individual and talented educator. He is prepared, well informed, original in approach, intelligent, especially when fielding questions.  I appreciate that mark is so sensitive to the audience, bringing out their sense of curiosity and competence, building confidence in their engagement with the work.

The residents love them, and they aren’t always an easy crowd.  After the Nari Ward exhibition that Mark led us through on our second visit, they were buzzing all the way home!  Several bought the catalog and some other books of serious scholarship at the museum shop.  It makes me extremely happy to see my residents, many in their 90’s, this curious, excited and enlivened after so many years of active exposure to the arts in New York and all over the world.  I love seeing the amazed expressions on these intelligent and lined faces.  Art is changing lives, even in the last act!”

Brookdale Battery Park
Resident Programs Assistant
Lydia Riojas