By Emily SmithPublished December 05, 2016 09:37:10When Brooklyn-based artist Emily Smith visited Brooklyn to paint a military bunker, she was excited by the potential of what she imagined.
“I’ve been doing a lot of military-themed art over the last year and a half,” said Smith, a Brooklyn-native who spent years as an artist and artist-in-residence at the Brooklyn Public Library.
“I wanted to try to create something different, and this is what I came up with.”
The Brooklyn-made bunkers were made with reclaimed steel from the old Brooklyn Navy base, which the city used to build up in the 1960s.
When they were completed in 2016, they were designed to house the city’s homeless and mentally ill.
But the bunkers aren’t the only military-inspired structures Smith and her fellow artists have created.
The Bunker project is also known for its use of reclaimed wood, reclaimed concrete and reclaimed materials.
The Brooklyn Public Space Program also uses reclaimed materials in the construction of its shelters, including the Bunker Shelter.
Smith said she wanted to use reclaimed materials for a variety of reasons.
“The Bunker is definitely an iconic piece in Brooklyn, but the project also has to do with people being housed in public spaces,” Smith said.
“When people are in a shelter, they can feel isolated, but when you’re living in a bunker it feels like you’re in a larger community.”
Smith’s bunkers have been featured in publications including Time, Esquire and People magazine, and she’s even been invited to speak at the U.S. Military Academy.
She’s been inspired by the military’s history, her hometown and the Brooklyn skyline to make her own bunkers.
“It’s really about finding ways to connect to nature and being in the city, and making the city feel like it’s a refuge from things that are happening around you,” Smith explained.
The Brooklyn Public Spaces Program has also been featured on NPR and in the film “The Bunker,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.
Smith hopes her work will inspire others to be creative with reclaimed materials to create their own bunkings.
“We have reclaimed materials around the world that are really beautiful and are beautiful and have been reclaimed for years,” Smith added.
“So I think that these new bunkers will be used by many people.
It’s just about using the materials that are already around us, finding ways that they can be reused.”