Sculpture Magazine - July/August 2003 vol.22 No.6

Reviews: New York - Deborah Masters at Maurice Arlos Fine Art
By Jonathon Goodman

Art in Armerica - February 2003

Deborah Masters at Maurice Arlos and Smack Mellon By Lilly Wei

New York Times - September 27, 2002

'Sacred Matter’
- Karen Dolmanisth and Deborah Masters By Holland Cotter - Smack Mellon Studios

Vie Des Arts - 2001

DEBORAH MASTERS - An American in New York By Paquerette Villeneuve

The Brooklyn Papers “GO”: January 13, 2003

Thinking Big - Sculptor Deborah Masters Talks about her ‘Angel’ in the Brooklyn Public Library
By Lisa J. Curtis

Art in America - March 1992

Deborah Masters at LedisFlam By Nancy Princenthal

Village Voice - January 23, 1990

“Women in Command”

By Arlene Raven

Art in America -June 2001

Public Art in New JFK Terminal By Cathy Lebowitz

The New York Times - The Arts -Thursday, May 24, 2001

Being Met At the Airport By New Art - Big, Bold Installations For a Rebuilt Kennedy Arrivals Terminal

Art in America - ART WORLD - April, 2002


Greenline- Revelations- Artist and Activist

Brigette by Barbara Schaeffer

Philadelphia Inquirer- In Sculptor's Figures, A Mysterious Gravity

NY Times- Dith Pran- Front Page Sunday Times

The New York Times - Friday, October 4, 2002

ART GUIDE - Last Chance

Newsday -City - Thursday April 26, 2001

Missing Cloth’s No Cover-Up

By Pete Bowles

CRAIN’S New York Business - Jan. 28-Feb. 4, 2001

The Fine Art of Traveling

Daily News - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

“Artist Adds Loincloth to Jesus in JFK Mural”

By Warren Woodberry Jr.

The New York Times -The Metro Section - Wednesday, April 25, 2001

Blushing, Then Brushing, Artist Covers Nude Christ

DIE ZEIT - 4/6/2002 

Hipster auf Asbest
Nur eins stört den industriellen Charme im Szeneviertel Williamsburg: die Industrie
Thomas Fischermann

New York Times - Making ‘Dwell Time’ Fly Just a Little Faster

New $1.4 Billion Terminal at J.F.K. Aims to Ease Waits for Passengers
By Ronald Smothers

The North Brooklyn Community News-GREENLINE- January 6- Feb 27, 2003

Crossing Brooklyn: Angel in Crown Heights
Deborah Masters, April 24, 2001
Jesus' groin painted over after complaints

Above the Immigration Hall, Walking New York

Describing the theme of her narrative relief panels mounted on a 300-foot wide space above the immigration booths, sculptor Deborah Masters emphasizes the familiar, as well as the diverse in New York

Hemispheres - August 2001

Terminal Bliss
/ New York's JFK
By David Butwin

Interior Design - 9/1/2001

First Class - Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designs a new international terminal at JFK. By Edie Cohen

Los Angeles Times - Sunday, May 20, 2001

“New York’s JFK Airport Opens a New Terminal”

Brooklyn Bridge - September 1996

“Casts of Thousands”

By Bonnie Schwartz

New York Times - LedisFlam
April 1, 1988

Blue Angel:
The Decline of Sexual Stereotypes in Post-Feminist Sculpture By Michael Brenson

New York Times - LedisFlam -
March 3, 1989

Beyond Slickness: Sculptors Get Back to Basics”
By Michael Brenson

Village Voice - March 9th, 1993

LedisFlam - ‘Covert Action’
By Elizabeth Hess

Chico Enterprise Record - August 17, 1990

“Garden of Statues Grows at Chico State”


A Publication of the Art Department of California State University at Chico
“The Monoliths Have Landed”

The Daily News-Wednesday April 25, 2001

Mural Modesty - After complaint, artist adds loincloth to nude figure of Jesus - By Paul Mose

Newsday Copy- Profile- Sheila McKenna

ARTLETTER 1989-1990 Edition

“Visiting Artists & Scholars”
- Deborah Masters
California State University, Chico

Style: The Washington Post -Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Forsaken Warehouse District Is New York’s Latest Art Home
By Blake Gopnik

Gracie Mansion Gallery - Arts Magazine

“New York in Review”

By Robert Mahoney

Art in America - LedisFlam

Women at War 1993
By Ruth Bass

The New Zealand Hereld, World News - Thursday, April 26, 2001

X-rated Jesus given face-saving Y-fronts

JFK Catalogue Copy

The Brooklyn Phoenix - October 1988

‘Trails of Showing Sculpture in Park’

Chico Enterprise Record - Friday, August 17, 1990

“Three Sisters and a Rose Garden”

The Orion - January 30, 1991

Sister, Sister: Masters’ Final Sculpture Project Looks Inward”
By Courtney Rastatter

The Orion - 1991

“Sculpture’s New Location Solves Controversy”

By Lauren Dodge

PennState Harrisburg Currents -
Fall 1990

“Sculpture Garden Receives an Angel”

Eureka Standard- Jesse

New Yorker, Nancy Ramsey, Loft Tenants

Brooklyn Magazine
Brooklyn Artists, The Newest Left Bank
Amy Virshup, 1986


Brooklyn Bridge
September 1996
“Casts of Thousands”
By Bonnie Schwartz

Sculpture and environmental activist Deborah Masters is passionate about two things: making art for public spaces and working on a monumental scale. No wonder the 45-year-old artist, known for her cast-concrete pieces, lives and works in a 5,500-square-foot-loft on Water Street, in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn. She needs the space.
It was Masters who created “Pond Virgins,” that distinctive collection of stylized, eight-foot-tall figures that inhabited Prospect Park a few years back. (The installation, unfortunately, was destroyed by drunken teenagers wielding sledgehammers.) Her more recent work, titled “Coney Island Reliefs,” is even more ambitious. Masters, commissioned by the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s Arts for Transit program, has created a series of 128 giant reliefs depicting the unusual characters who call Coney Island home.
The 12-ton work-Masters mixed and poured the concrete with a crew of assistants- is to be installed in the architectural recesses of the Ocean Parkway Viaduct, transforming it into a celebratory gateway. Visitors driving both to and from Coney Island won’t be able to miss it, nor will people arriving at the Ocean Parkway D-train subway station.
The sculpture is reminiscent in scale and style of the Works Progress Administration commissions of the late 19930s and early 1940s. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be installed until at least the year 2000: The ocean Parkway Viaduct needs major repairs. A fluke water leak rusted the rebar- the structure’s steel skeleton- and now the viaduct cannot support the additional weight. So, for the next four years, Masters’ exuberant piece will be shuttered inside a city-owned bus depot in the Bronx, collecting dust.
Masters is somewhat used to having her art vandalized; in addition to “Pond Virgins,” two of her earlier public sculptures were also attacked. But the deterioration of the viaduct was an unexpected and deeply disappointing event. “It was like having a baby born dead, or born with something so wrong with it that you wish it would die,” says Masters of the sculpture, which took two years to fabricate. The piece was commissioned for $70,000 but ended up costing some $40,000 more, with the artist herself making up the difference with personal loans. “But everybody at the MTA has been so nice to me about it, there’s nobody I can get mad at.”
Any artist interested in creating public or site-specific art can register to participate in the MTA’s Arts for Transit program, created in 1985 to help revitalize the transit system. Most of what the problem has commissioned to date has been installed inside subway stations. But when Masters inspected the site for which she had been chosen, the Ocean Parkway station, her first inclination was to run.
“The station was so claustrophobic, and I didn’t want to spend much time in there,” she says. “When I went outside and looked at the bridge, I fell in love with it. It has these gorgeous, terribly expensive inlaid tiles that nobody ever notices. It was also one of the first cast-concrete bridges built in the city under Olmsted’s influence.”
Masters, who has degrees in art from both Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and the New York Studio School in Manhattan, is referring to Frederick Law Olmsted, the architect and parks commissioner who in the late 1800s designed, among other things, Prospect Park and Central Park. “I knew when I saw the architectural recesses in the [viaduct],” she continues, “that they were meant to be filled.”
A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Masters first learned how to cast concrete from her father, a civil engineer. (She would later learn more nuances about the process from Italian artisans living in Brooklyn.) It was her mother who taught her to appreciate the environment. Masters has long been an environmental activist. She was founder and co-director of the Fort Green/Waterfront Coalition for Clean Air, as well as a member of the Health and Social Services Committee Board 2. Currently she is director of the Watchperson Project, a Greenpoint/Williamsburg environmental initiative.
Believing strongly that “for public art to be successful, it has to relate to the environment in which it exists,” Masters began hanging out in Coney Island, getting to know some of the people who live there. For three weeks, she interviewed, sketched ad photographed Latino gang members, park-bench derelicts, Russian émigrés, Polar Bear Club swimmers, you name it.
Images of many of these folk ended up in the reliefs, along with more traditional seaside icons such as mermaids and Neptune. “When my mother first saw some of the sketches,” says Masters, “She said, ‘Why did you include all of those fat ladies?” I think she was offended that people she would consider overweight were comfortable sunbathing in bikinis. But I drew and sculpted what I found. That’s what Coney Island is all about: how weird everyone is, and also how everyone is there just to have a good time.”
Masters is not sitting around while the MTA scrambles to find the funds to repair the Ocean Parkway Viaduct. She has already begun work on her next massive piece, “Twentieth Century Icons,” which focuses on religious iconography. It doesn’t have a home yet either.