The Pennsylvania State University

School of Visual Arts

Rudy Shepherd Battles Negative Energy with NYC Installation

Black Rock Negative Energy Absorber, an installation by Rudy Shepherd, assistant professor of art, is on display at First Park, Manhattan, through November 2014. The public art exhibition is sponsored by NYC Parks and First Street Green, a community organization devoted to cultural programming started by Penn State School of Visual Arts faculty members John Bowman and Ann Shostrom. The sculpture is on view at the western side of the park at Second Avenue and Houston Street. For a video from the opening in May, visit

Shepherd’s ten-foot-tall abstract sculpture made out of wood, metal lathe, and dyed concrete continues a series he started in 2006 at Socrates Sculpture Park in Long Island City, Queens. Since 2006, Shepherd has continued the series with smaller sculptures in varying materials, sizes, and forms, but this is his return to monumental outdoor work. 

Black Rock Negative Energy Absorbers are a group of sculptures with a magical function: “to expunge negative energy—which may come in the form of prejudice, racism, or even quotidian disdain”—from the people walking by the piece. The sculpture will free them and “allow them to respond to life with the more open, compassionate, and positive aspects of their personalities,” notes Shepherd. The series is his response to living in New York City for the past twelve years and witnessing the city’s madness. At the same time, Shepherd’s work is an approach to political art started two decades ago that looks at the problems of society in a more comprehensive way and advances practices culled from new age mythology and ancient religions to heal our divided and troubled country. 

Since 2008, First Street Green (FSG) has converted a derelict building lot at 33 E. 1st Street in Manhattan into an open art space serving the Lower East Side community. Collaborating with NYC Parks and Partnership for Parks, FSG has successfully incorporated the lot into First Park. Today, FSG provides ongoing cultural activity in First Park by engaging with emerging artists, architects, community and cultural groups through a series of programs that activate this public space.

NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks. For more information, visit

For more information on Shepherd's installation and FSG, click here.

Text courtesy of Amy Milgrub Marshall


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