A Tree House on Governor's Island
If you’ve been to Governor’s Island recently, you’ve certainly noticed that there’s a lot of stuff happening there. One of those things is a giant tree house built by local artist, Benjamin Jones. In collaboration with Figment, a New York City artist’s organization, Ben constructed a 30’ tall tree house with used wood he either found on the street or reclaimed wood he picked up at Build it Green.
Ben isn’t your average artist. Ben moved to NYC in 99' right after graduating from Syracuse to do theater, but had some bad experiences and decided he wanted to do my own work, so he moved towards doing sculpture. He has two degrees: an undergrad in Design and Technical Theater from Syracuse University and his graduate degree in Exhibition Design from Fashion Institute of Technology. These two diverse educational backgrounds allow Ben to explore some interesting and unusual processes for his projects. His latest tree house project wasn’t just a bunch of wood thrown up next to a tree. It’s a tree house on a mission. A sustainable mission. And it’s also build to city code. That’s right. Using his grant money, he hired an architect to ensure the tree house met the city’s new building’s requirements. Sean P Krause, who has his own practice, helped Ben build the tree house up to code. The purpose of this is to allow children to safely play on the tree house even without adult supervision.
The tree house took about 2 to 5 people a few weeks to build. All volunteers and friends. Two artists did work in the tree house: paintings, sculptures, etc. Anastasia Sokolik called "Air, Sea Sky" and Eve Mosher provided Ben with the plants for the planter, which hangs off the balcony. When the tree house was finished, Ben hosted a painting party complete with a DJ. Kids, adults, and hipsters alike joined in for the fun.
When asked what his inspiration was for the tree house, Ben said, “Originally I was asked to do it by Figment, but I was in thesis semester for grad school. I really wanted to do it but wasn't sure. I had just started dating someone at the time and wanted to impress her, and thought building the tree house would be a great idea. So I made it work, by combining the tree house with my thesis.”
Ben is working on other projects as well. Right now, he’s working with the Redgate Community Garden in Bed-Stuy to build interactive, sustainable gardening equipment, another community-minded art project. It seems to be Ben’s theme these days. To reach out to Ben and show your support, send him an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org