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A Van, a Vamp, and Two Spectacles in the Name of Occupy Wall Street

IMG_1814Jared Malsin The Illuminator

Maybe you saw the messages beamed, Bat-Signal-like, on the wall of Cooper Union’s new academic building on Saturday? Actually, it was just one of two spectacles related to Occupy Wall Street in the East Village that night.

“It is the beginning of the beginning. Another world is possible,” read the messages. The final one beamed on the steel facade of 41 Cooper Square was the original Occupy slogan: “99%.”

This was the maiden voyage of The Illuminator, a white cargo van modified by a group of Brooklyn-based guerilla artists. A 12,000-lumen projector emerged from its roof while clanging post-rock blared from a set of mounted loudspeakers. Also attached to the van was a rack of books available for public perusal, a mobile version of Occupy Wall Street’s “People’s Library.” Read more…

On 9th St., An Artist Pushes Her Limits

Theresa Byrnes has been living in New York City since 2000, showing her art since age 16, and a rebel for as long as she can remember. “I have always valued being challenged more than being happy. Approval seems so stagnant and unexamined,” she wrote in her most recent blog post. And “I am not nice,” she said on her Twitter page, where she goes by the handle feistysparrow.

Ms. Byrnes is a portrait, abstract and performance artist in the East Village. Together, her three forms of expression make up what she calls her “holy trinity,” encompassing the body, mind and soul. The Australian-born Ms. Byrnes uses a wheelchair because of a degenerative nerve disease called Friedrich’s Ataxia. And yet Ms. Byrnes lives and creates with a distinct grace, fearless in her life as well as in her art.

“There is no forever,” she said recently in her East Ninth Street studio, wearing a paint-splattered smock and surrounded by works-in-progress. “It’s a bit boring to me, talking about identity and disability because my life is so beyond that. I’ve left all that way in the past.”

As for the way she sees life, Ms. Byrnes is firm. “There is nothing to fear, except your own illusion of identity,” she said. “Don’t protect yourself – reinvent. Break down the wall.”

NYU Journalism’s Robyn Baitcher reports.