The Haunting, a mixed-media public art installation, sound garden, and candlelight vigil, honors the people of color who have been killed by police

Artists in rehearsal for "The Haunting". Photo: Caran Hartsfield

Alumni, faculty, and student artists from NYU Tisch School of the Arts have created The Haunting, an immersive public art installation combining film, theater, photography, dance, costume design, set design, and music, to be unveiled May 29 at Astor Place Plaza. The installation commemorates the first anniversary of George Floyd’s death on May 25, which sparked widespread protests against police brutality and racial injustice last summer and beyond, and honors the people of color who have been killed by police.

“So many people have volunteered their time and artistry and energy to this project, and to share this with an audience will be a gesture of healing for all of us and a way to give back to the community. We want to help reimagine how artists can think about public space to create conversation,” said Caran Hartsfield, co-director of The Haunting and associate arts professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts' Undergraduate Film and Television department.

“In the same way we saw so many different people come together as part of the Black Lives Matter movement, which was healing for us as a country, we want to honor the people who have been disrespected and dishonored to help turn the conversation. We are asking ourselves: How can we as artists keep energy in this conversation?” she continued.

The Haunting installation features iconography associated with Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) and weaves in familiar references for death and mourning from different cultures. The immersive event is designed for audience members to move independently through space and interact with performers, while being immersed in sound and other media. At sunset, the installation will transform into a candlelight vigil.

“Rituals are necessary to help remind us where we've been and where we want to go. Many cultures use rituals to keep their struggles, faith, and traditions alive and to help them remember. This needs to be our ritual, every year on May 25, so we can continue to push for social justice and reform,” said James Richards, co-director of The Haunting and Projection Supervisor at NYU Tisch.

The Haunting (aka The Day of the Dead: an Immersive Public Art Installation) can be found May 29 at the new Astor Place Plaza, off 8th Street and Layfette by the Black Cube sculpture, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. The installation is free and open to the public.

The Haunting is directed and features sound design by Caran Hartsfield, Associate Arts Professor, and James Richards, Projection Supervisor in Tisch School of the Arts’ Undergraduate Film and Television program. The installation features costume design by Erin Black, Arts Professor in Tisch Drama, and set design by NYU alumna Mikayla Scout Curtin. Dancers in the piece include NYU Tisch students Lay'la Kesi Rogers, Grace Tong, Jacoby Pruitt, Nhyira Asante, and Dymon Samara Smith. Jacob Orr and Reese Antoinette act and Jade Brathwaite sings. This event was created in collaboration with For Freedoms.


About the NYU Tisch School of the Arts
For over 50 years, the NYU Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast artistic and cultural resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for artists, scholars, and innovators. Today, students learn their craft in a spirited, risk-taking environment that combines the professional training of a conservatory with the liberal arts education of a premier global university with campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, Shanghai and 11 academic centers around the world. Learn more at

About For Freedoms
Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Gottesman, Wyatt Gallery and Michelle Woo, For Freedoms began as an investigation into how art can shape ideas, attitudes and democratic institutions in American society. For Freedoms believes in the vital role of culture and transforming our social and political systems; and that citizenship is defined by participation, not by ideology. Through anti-partisan nationwide programming, they use art as a vehicle to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values, In essence, For Freedoms is a hub for artists, partner organizations, and citizens who want to be more engaged in public life.


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