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Brooklyn Museum's Artist Ball Will Feature Large, Bold Table Settings

You eat with your eyes first, goes the old culinary proverb.

On Wednesday night, the dinner served at the Brooklyn Museum’s Brooklyn Artists Ball will be a visual feast thanks to the multisensory table environments created by 16 leading local artists.

“Having been to scores and scores of major fundraising events over a decade, it’s much more fun when there’s something to focus on other than the chicken on your plate,” said Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum.

This year’s ball is the museum’s fourth annual fundraising gala. Honorees include artists Jenny Holzer, Kehinde Wiley and Ai Weiwei, who Mr. Lehman described as an “honorary Brooklyn artist” because he lived there in the 1990s. Art patrons Jane and David Walentas will also be honored.

The Brooklyn Museum’s goal this year is to raise $1 million.

“Brooklyn has become the creative capital of the world,” said Mr. Lehman.

Mr. Lehman said the idea for the table installations grew out of a collective discussion at the museum about how to make the gala “much more exciting and visually stimulating and just more fun.”

The 16 artists tapped by the museum to create installations for the event include Ellen Altfest, Oliver Clegg, Rico Gatson, Orly Genger, Alejandro Guzman, Nina Katchadourian, Olek, Adam Parker Smith, Iona Rozeal Brown, Carrie Schneider, Alyson Shotz, Courtney Smith, Nick Van Woert, Marianne Vitale, Heeseop Yoon and Ghost of a Dream (comprised of Lauren Was and Adam Eckstrom).

Each artist will transform a 40-foot-long table into a unique installation to be on view for that night only.

This year, for the first time, the museum will allow the table displays to be purchased with proceeds shared with the artists.

“Everyone who attends is so taken with the artistic creativity on the table that people have wanted to by these works of art,” said Mr. Lehman.

“This year we’ve talked it through with the artists in advance and almost all of them are making available elements of their table design for sale.”

The museum provides a stipend for materials and reviews the designs to make sure they’re not dangerous.

All 16 artists are expected to attend the ball, and will be seated with their works so they can discuss them with other guests.

“It really makes for a much more interesting evening,” said Mr. Lehman.

Ms. Katchadourian, a visual artist, is best known for her 2011 photo series “Lavatory Self-Portraits in the Flemish Style” in which she used objects found in an airplane bathroom such as sanitary toilet seat cover to fashion Dutch period accessories.

“I was inspired by what can you make out of very little under circumstances where art doesn’t seem very possible,” said Ms. Katchadourian, who works in a range of media including photography, installation, video, sound-based work and public projects.

“I try to work with mundane materials to create a transformation.”

For the ball, Ms. Katchadourian has created kits so guests can recreate a portrait from the Brooklyn Museum’s permanent collection.

The kits will include items such as nylon stockings, vinyl hairdressing salon robes, swim caps and brown plastic bags.

“I’m hoping that people play along and we become a group of historical paintings,” said Ms. Katchadourian.

“Several of the paintings will be on the walls right behind the table so people can see themselves as the portraits.”

At the table designed by contemporary artist Marianne Vitale, each guest will receive a mixed-media mask sculpture made from materials including paper plates, cardboard, plastic, tinfoil and then bound with plaster gauze.

“They are mediums of transformation,” said Ms. Vitale. “The guests can use them to disguise themselves, hide behind, or as simple conversation pieces. They can also be ignored.”

Agata Oleksiak, a Polish-born artist who creates art under the name Olek and is known as Crocheted Olek, has been working on her table installation since last October.

Ms. Oleksiak said she has crocheted little monsters and animals as well as vegetables, bowls, and a skeleton and a performer who will be seated at the table.

“It’s all crocheted and colorful, rainbow colors,” said Ms. Oleksiak, who on Monday said she might turn to Craigslist to find a date.

“I don’t even have time to find a date for the ball, I’m too busy making this art!”