“Welcome Stranger” is the title of two projects created by Saskia Janssen and George Korsmit in Peekskill, a city to the north of New York. The works are part of Peekskill Project 6, a city-wide art festival in public space. Organized by the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art, this festival continues through to the end of 2015.
For their project “Welcome Stranger,” Janssen and Korsmit created a series of five abstract wall paintings in the homes of Peekskill residents. The artists distributed flyers in which they announced that they were giving away five wall paintings to people who were interested. The flyers were handed out in and around the Bohlmann Towers Housing Projects.
Each mural was produced in close collaboration with the resident. Size, shape and colors were decided by the resident throwing dice and ‘choosing blindly’. Korsmit immediately applied the outcome on the wall. Neither the residents nor the artists knew the outcome in advance and placed their trust in the unknown and in each other. Janssen documented the whole process of throwing the dice, choosing colors and painting in text and image, to be featured in an artist’s publication with the same title: “Welcome Stranger.” Janssen and Korsmit created wall paintings for Bohlmann Towers tenants, as well as in Mary Rainey’s Community Action office and in the home of food-bank volunteer Arthur Holmes. Producing each mural took three days. The murals are the property of the residents and are not on display to the general public, unless the residents are prepared to open their doors to visitors.