The Rockckaway Report: The Kite Collectctive

Lee Dares
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The Kite Machine was the first of a series of itinerant exhibitions of handmade, low-cost miniature kites available in refurbished vending machines in various communities, beginning with Far Rockaway, Queens, New York City. The goal of the project was to provide people with accessibility to kiteflying as an art, a pastime, or a way of life. We wanted to reach as many people as possible with our human resources and the results far surpassed our expectations. In this report, the process of conceptualizing, building, and fundraising the machine and our observations will be covered, along with future plans for the constantly evolving project.

Last spring, the initial members of the collective were in the experimental phase of kitemaking. Taking tips from their grandparents who made kites during the Great Depression out of whatever materials they had on hand, the Kite Collective began finding unique materials and designs that emphasized practicality. Then they began teaching workshops based on re-using household items, such as newsprint, barbeque skewers, food coloring, and for more advanced students, using windbreakers, needles and thread. This approach to kitemaking emphasized learning from our past and giving it new meaning in today’s fast-paced, overly abundant society by making the most out of what we already have. The workshops gained popularity and it came to a point where we wanted to reach more people but with our other jobs and busy lives, we couldn’t teach all the time. So we came up with a self-sufficient kite dispenser that would imbue our love of kites and kitemaking, and provide the community with access to kites.

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