Vascano is a Brooklyn-based artist from Woodbridge, Va., who attended the Corcoran School of Art. He created some of the sculptures that appear in the film as works by the central character, Fonny.
The film’s production company approached Vascano in the fall of 2017 through the New York Academy of Art, where he was studying, and asked to see photographs of some of his work.
“I was showing them pictures of my work and the movie company said, ‘OK, we’d like to work with you,’ ” Vascano says. “And that’s how the whole thing began.”
Vascano was afforded plenty of freedom when it came to creating pieces for “Beale Street.”
“I wasn’t going to sacrifice the design of the pieces,” he says. They didn’t make a drawing and say, ‘We want you to make this.’ They said to make something with my own aesthetic.”
Even with all that freedom, there were some instructions. For example, production wanted to use a piece he made while studying at the Corcoran, “Blossoming,” but there was one major problem — it was already finished.
“They wanted to make scenes of the piece being made, so they asked me if I could make two more pieces in different stages,” the artist says. “One [in the] beginning, and one in the middle.”
“Blossoming” doesn’t just occupy a central role in “Beale Street”; at the end of filming, writer and director Barry Jenkins bought it for his personal collection.
“It was a completely surreal experience for me,” says Vascano, who saw Jenkins’ best picture-winning “Moonlight” while on a plane heading to a sculpture residency in Italy just a few months before the production company contacted him.
“[Jenkins’] artistry with a sensitive topic really captivated me,” he says. “It really had me thinking and influenced me on the power of art to tell a story. He is a true artist.”