Inside the artists’ studios at chashama in the Brooklyn Army Terminal

Nestled within two floors of two buildings of the Brooklyn Army Terminal is a patchwork of rooms filled with paintings, sculptures, tapestries, photographs, drawings, videos, canvas and all manner of materials and mediums that are shaped daily into art by the 85+ artists who call these studios a second home.

So on Friday and Saturday, September 20 and 21, when the artists threw open the doors to their artistic lives, hundreds of art fans and the art-curious came to take a look and be inspired.

The chashama Open Studios event, co-presented by the NYC Economic Development Corporation, gave the public a chance to tour the studios, meet the artists, and experience the architecture and history of the Brooklyn Army Terminal buildings. For artists such as Bay Ridge’s Isabelle Garbani, the chance to interact with viewers in invaluable.

“Open studio is great because I can look at reactions from people who are not my friends and they are very honest reactions,” said Garbani, who joined chashama in 2012 and uses her studio space to create crocheted tapestries out of shredded plastic bags. The tapestries depict “screenshots” of Facebook and other social media conversations between friends; the conversations focus on themes of love, loss, grief and death.

“In the 20th century, a lot of communication is prone to disappear because of its impermanent nature, so I’m giving it permanence,” Garbani explained. “The idea came from reading the Tale of Gilgamesh, which survived 10,000 years because it was recorded on clay tablets. Today, we only communicate through digital media. How are our stories going to survive 10,000 years?”

Kristin Reed has used her studio space to pursue her goal of understanding life through her paintings. The Park Slope resident “never thought [they] would be abstract paintings, but [training in] reiki changed my way of looking at life.” Drawing the circles and lines in her paintings “is very meditative. I understand [life] in a way not available just reading about it.”

For Reed, opening her studio has been good because she’s gotten “a lot of inquiries about prices and conversations about time and space.”

For Jonathan Fischer, a textile artist by trade, being part of the chashama artist community has “helped me expand out of that mold.

“There is an incredibly varied mix of people and interests [and] a lot of these pieces [on display now] I did as reminders to myself to “Make Art, Not Friends,” he half-joked, pointing to his more recent pieces which combine text and bold patterns and pop art imagery. “It reminds me to stop playing hooky by chatting with people instead of doing work.”

chashama, which means “to have vision” in Farsi, partners with artists, performers, youth, and community organizations in the city to provide programs and projects that help nurture ideas and collaboration. To learn more about chashama, visit

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