The New School Archives Digital Collections

Related people/organizations

Julia Vallera (designer)
Anezka Sebek (thesis advisor)
Barbara Morris (thesis advisor)
Cynthia Lawson (thesis advisor)
Andrew Zornoza (thesis advisor)
Thomas Bosket (thesis advisor)




Once a year the circus comes to town. It unfolds into a magical display of light and color. The quiet, motionless land instantly transforms into a vibrant playground filled with curious people. Excitement spills into the air spontaneously as visual imprints form life memories for all ages. Humans have a rich history in traveling entrepreneurship. Gypsies, circus acts, magicians and inventors are a few examples of people that have historical roots in nomadic livelihoods.

In New York City (NYC), an increasing number of commercial, political, artistic and educational enterprises are outreaching to communities through mobile venues. Carts, trucks and vans selling goods can be found on almost every street corner. The purpose and size of a mobile venue vary depending on what its intention is. In every case, there is a primary objective to reach a larger, more diverse group of people. These examples serve as inspiration for the development of this color laboratory on wheels with accompanying website Color Wheelz is designed to transform a 1997 Ford van into a traveling, participatory installation. This van travels through the five boroughs of NYC filled with playful activities, which facilitate exploration into the world of color. Visitors create colorful patterns and designs that represent their current environment. Each participant manipulates an array of color related items. These items may include glowing neon wire, cling paper, velcro shapes, magnets and projections. They turn on neon wire, cut shapes out of cling paper and apply velcro to the seats and walls. Colorful images can also be projected onto the interior. Changing the appearance of the van is a fun way for participants to contribute their personal interpretation. Color Wheelz combines mobility, color theory and hands-on activities to create a unique experience that results in a mobile, color emporium. Interaction with Color Wheelz occurs inside and outside of the van. Up to 4 participants can be inside and up to 10 participants can be outside anytime. The van stays in one location all day while participants customize its appearance. They are asked to consider the color of the architecture, people and nature that surrounds them. This consideration is a unique opportunity for people to think about their surroundings in a visual way, which results in a colorful commentary on the neighborhoods of New York City. Results are documented through photographs, video, interviews and voice recordings. The event is publicized and published on the official website A map is updated on the website and on a twitter account so that people can find the location of Color Wheelz at any point during the day.

Color Wheelz creates a fun and engaging way for visitors to explore the colors in their world. The opportunity to interpret a neighborhood through color initiates critical analysis about how and why color influences culture, race and geography. Sharing in this experience brings people together on a common ground at which time they may exchange stories, ideas and knowledge. Perhaps this exploration will encourage additional insight into how color relates to communication and perception. Tracking the outcomes in each location is an ongoing effort and will result in a valuable collection of color related stories and art, which contribute to the topic of color perception in a variety of ways. Continuing these endeavors excite me and I am confident that they will inspire new ideas and curiosity about the world of color.



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