Bronx Project

  • 1991
  • Color offset lithograph
  • Image/sheet: 21 ¾ x 30 inches (55.3 x 76.2 cm)
  • 2009-61-75
About the Print

With a bright blue sky and lacy clouds overhead, a building stands alone in an empty lot in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. In this dreamlike scene, the protruding prow of a large ship, placed high against the wall, casts a dark shadow. A mood or sense of isolation prevails. Who once lived in this abandoned building? Where did everyone go? What stories played out in these spaces where only brick, paint, and bits of wallpaper remain? Finally, what about the boat, up high and dry and out of water?

In 1974, when Toshio Sasaki arrived in the United States, the Bronx was in social turmoil. Sasaki saw the devastation. Property was being abandoned and destroyed. People, especially the poor, were displaced and their communities destroyed. As a recent immigrant, Sasaki experienced loneliness and a loss of community and family. In 1991, while making Bronx Project, Toshio Sasaki looked back to a time when he was like a ship out of water.

“I believe that the challenge is to expedite a new cultural awareness and foster cross-cultural dialogue through an accessible visual language.”

– Toshio Sasaki

Let's Look
  • What do you see? What do you think? What do you wonder?
  • Look at the buildings. How can you tell that no one lives here anymore? What else makes this scene seem lonely and isolated?
  • Where are you standing in this picture? Did the artist want you to feel big or small? How did he make you feel that way?
  • Why would the artist have put a boat into a building?
  • Toshio Sasaki emigrated from Japan to the United States to go to art school in New York. How might this image reflect his feelings and experiences?

Toshio Sasaki

Japanese
Born Kyoto, Japan, 1946; died Nagakute, Japan, 2007
About the Artist

Toshia Sasaki was born in Kyoto, Japan. He came to New York City to attend the Brooklyn Museum Art School. A sculptor, Sasaki was dedicated to making public works that were accessible to everyone. He is best known for a 332-foot-long, concrete wall relief called The First Symphony of the Sea at the New York Aquarium at Coney Island, completed in 1993. He was also one of eight finalists in the design competition for the National September 11 Memorial in 2003.

Curriculum Connections

Suggested Topics for Art Projects, Group Discussion, and Independent Writing

Art

Landscapes

Photograph the architecture and surroundings of your neighborhood. Create a montage to capture the culture of the environment. Include things that are beautiful and things that some might find less attractive.

Express an Emotion

Create a drawing, painting, print, or collage of an object that captures an emotion or feeling that everyone experiences, such as excitement, loneliness, or joy. Emphasize the emotion with colors, shapes, lines, and textures. What else will you include? The work can be a realistic or abstract representation.

Language Arts

Lune Poem

In Bronx Project, the artist selected two objects (an abandoned building and a ship) as symbols of loneliness. Create a lune poem about this print or about a particular place or event that is important to you. Include details about the print, place, or event and the feelings the artist or you experienced.

In Your Opinion

"I believe that the challenge is to expedite a new cultural awareness and foster cross-cultural dialogue through an accessible visual language."
Consider Toshio Sasaki's quote about his artwork. In your opinion, does Bronx Project reflect the meaning of his words? How? If not, why not?

Social Studies

Interview

There are many reasons why people leave their birthplace to live in a new and unfamiliar place. Interview someone you know who found a new homeland. Write their story as an oral history.