The Horace Mann Record, 09/16/11
Art Teacher Encourages Global Connections

By Chloe Tsang | web link

Using technology to connect people throughout the world is at the heart of former arts teacher Nicky Enright’s new art project that opened last Friday.( Enright created an international calling card, the Glocal Card, which opened last Friday at the Bronx River Art Center (BRAC).

The Glocal Card is an international phone card that allows users to talk to anyone in the world for free through Skype for five minutes in exchange for filling out a five-question survey online, Enright said.

Enright’s project is part of the Bronx River Art Center’s exhibition, Shifting Communities, Enright said. The exhibition “highlights dynamic initiatives in culture and the arts currently at work in the margins of the art world and American society,” according to the BRAC website.

To construct his phone card, Enright created a Skype account, made subscriptions to various countries, and left his account public for anyone to use, he said. The users then are asked to fill out a survey that gives Enright information on which areas are being called most frequently. The data is then to be set up as a pie chart to accompany the piece, he said.

Enright said he came up with the Glocal Card this summer after having visitors stay with him in New York. “They had issues communicating back home and had to buy phone cards that would run out,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about phone cards all summer, and when I was invited to do this show, I immediately knew I wanted to tackle this idea of the international phone card.”

Glocal Card is a symbol of “international interconnectedness of people in the Bronx,” Enright said. He added that he hopes his art will make people “more aware of just how international we are and all the connections around us.”

The piece also demonstrates a more contradictory message. “When you use this, you can call any telephone like it’s no big deal, but there are time differences and costs involved. Generally it’s not as easy as it sounds,” Enright said. “I want people to think about how we know about globalization. It’s easy to communicate internationally but it’s also complicated, problematic, and potentially expensive.”

Enright painted the Glocal Card logo on a wall at the BRAC, and while Glocal Card can be accessed from anywhere, he set up a table in front with a computer, a headset, and Skype access for those who don’t have their own resources to participate in the project elsewhere, he said.

Enright, who has been teaching at Riverdale Country School for the past year, will be extending his exploration of globalization in his next piece called the Globo Dollar, an international “currency,” that will be exhibited at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. later this year.

“A Bronx immigrant might think he or she is dealing with this problem of their own because they’re trying to communicate with a family back home, but it’s a difficult story anyone has had,” Enright said. “Most people in their recent or not-so-recent past have had international struggles so it’s about being aware of that and communicating it.”

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This program is made possible with support from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, including Council Members Eric Dinowitz, Althea Stevens, Kristy Marmorato and the Bronx Delegation. Additional support is from Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, the NYS Council on the Arts with support from Governor Kathy Hochul and the NYS Legislature. Foundation support is from Con Edison: The Power of Giving, The New Yankee Stadium Community Benefits Fund, The Lincoln Fund, and private donors.

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