A green and golden lace-like structure will soon stand 40-feet tall at the southeastern edge of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. From one angle it will unveil the profile of a woman and from another, the outline of the U.S. Capitol dome. That’s the winning design for the monument dedicated to trailblazing Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Created by artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous—both trained as architects—Our Destiny, Our Democracy was chosen among the top five proposals submitted through She Built NYC, the city’s new initiative to make more monuments dedicated to women throughout the five boroughs. The pair’s bold vision to honor Chisholm will be the first public project to be built through the program and is set to rise on the corner of Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenues by late 2020. AN spoke with Jeyifous, a Brooklyn resident himself, and Williams via email about how they came up with the striking memorial design and why it best embodies Chisholm’s spirit. AN: How did you conceive of intertwining the image of the Capitol with Chisholm's profile? OJ + AM: It’s best described in our proposal: The U.S. Capitol dome figures prominently as a backdrop in many of her photographs. The strategy for our primary sculptural profile reverses this relationship so that her figure engulfs or embodies the dome iconography, thus claiming ownership. This composite symbolizes how she disrupted the perception of who has the right to occupy such institutions and to be an embodiment for democracy…When approached from the park, a symbolic opening breaks through the capitol silhouette, creating a threshold that reinforces Chisholm’s fight to ensure that everyone could access their right to participate in the political process. Not a basic bust or figure statue, why do you think this design best represents Shirley Chisholm and her legacy of "leaving the door open" for others? We are not sculptors (in the most traditional sense of the word) so we knew that we would not be proposing a cast bronze representation of a figure. We are, however, trained in how to use space as a medium. We both bring that into our artistic practices in different but complementary ways. That proclivity toward space as an occupiable object inherently begs to be participatory and invites engagement. That seemed like a perfect analogy to Chisholm’s philosophy on democracy. Making a sculpture commemorating this incredible political figure in our current climate is about remembering the long arc of democracy. Her words ring true because she was ahead of her time, but also because her philosophy was embedded in core values of inclusion and meeting people where they were in order to bring them into the process. We feel strongly that we have made a thoughtful and decisive piece that pushes the boundaries of what it means to embody the ideals of a person and not just their visage. What are the connections or differences between the monument's design and the traditional ironwork you might see in a gateway to a park? The design is ultimately a threshold into what is a major urban park and that is reflected in the vine and leaf motif that weaves through the monuments tertiary sculptural profile. This was an intentional nod to the traditional garden gate typology. Now that we’ve been awarded the commission, we will begin the process of actually researching specifics and refining the design. We want to do a deeper review of the historic language of gates and thresholds associated with public parks, that material language for Prospect Park’s history, and then what we would want to add as new motifs. In what ways do you foresee the sun playing a role in the way the monument is experienced? We envision at certain vantage points the patinated and bronzed steel to be a glowing beacon and for the detailed filigree in the screens and perimeter fence to cast marvelous shadows on to the plaza surface. That the installation can be occupied contributes to the various ways in which light will transform the experience of visitors to the site. Shadows will also give it dynamism and whimsy as the sun angle changes by day and year. Its intensity is also something we hope to carry into night hours through the considered placement of lighting.
Posts tagged with "Prospect Park":
New York is apparently moving fast to bridge the gap in the number of public monuments dedicated to men versus women. Last November, the She Built NYC initiative announced its plans to erect its first statue of the political trailblazer Shirley Chisholm and just yesterday, the group unveiled the top five artist proposals in the running for the monument's design. Among the all-female finalists are Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous, Mickalene Thomas, Tanda Francis, La Vaughn Belle, and Firelei Báez. Slated for the Parkside and Ocean Avenue entrance of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the designs all feature grand visions of Congresswoman Chisholm’s “trailblazing” legacy. La Vaughn Belle Chisholm is well-known for the now-famous line: “If they don’t give you a seat the table, bring a folding chair.” Belle showcases Chisholm walking ahead of a sea of folding chairs, carrying one in her hand and stepping on what appears to be a symbolic presidential seal. The title of the piece, Chisholm Trail, alludes to her West Indian roots and how she empowered immigrants and people of all backgrounds by leaving a path for further equality in the United States. Mickalene Thomas Thomas described Chisholm in her proposal as someone who was “deeply in touch with the people” of Brooklyn. Her proposal shows the Congressperson sitting on a parked car, legs crossed as if in casual conversation, instead of at a podium or on a stage as a politician. Creating her figure at human-scale, the artist aimed to place her at eye-level with viewers in order to enhance engagement and encourage a communal atmosphere. “The monument is meant to highlight the fortitude of both Shirley Chisholm and the people she represents,” Thomas wrote in her submission. Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyfious Inspired by Chisholm's life as a civil servant—she was the first-ever woman and African American to seek the Democratic Party’s pick for president in 1971—Williams and Jeyfious envisioned the monument as a nod to Chisholm's legacy as someone who “left the door open” for others to pursue a place in politics and fight for equality. From one angle, the outline of the statue looks like the U.S. Capitol dome; from another, it’s Chisholm’s profile. According to the artists, this “symbolizes how she disrupted the perception of who has the right to occupy such institutions and to be an embodiment for democracy.” Tanda Francis The Chisholm Trail Memorial by Tanda Francis takes the form of a bold, bronze bust of Chisholm framed by vertical jets of water and light. A towering structure with her face looking upward in hope, the monument will feature a pathway surrounding the statue with Chisholm's inspiring quotes embedded into the sidewalk. Firelei Báez Báez’s monument centers around a series of 10- to 15-foot hand-painted metal columns. Inspired by the famous monument of Nelson Mandela in Howick, South Africa, the artist has created three portraits of Chisholm that reveal themselves when viewed from different vantage points. Each visage showcases different aspects of her public role and accomplishments. An aerial view of the sculpture reveals that the beams are arranged in the West African symbol of a bird, the Sankofa. The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art program has opened the proposals up for a public commentary period through Sunday, March 31. The winning design will be chosen in early April and is estimated to be built by the end of 2020.
Giant, inflatable dome will host a week-long Democracy Lab at the Brooklyn Public Library this summer
From June 11-17, an inflatable bubble that can fit more than one hundred people will rise at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn to house the week-long Democracy Lab. The lab is organized by the Brooklyn Public Library, in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance, Storefront for Art & Architecture, and visitBerlin, and will feature workshops and talks on social justice and civic engagement by established community members of Brooklyn and greater New York. The dome, dubbed the Spacebuster, is designed and developed by raumlaborberlin, a collective of eight Berlin-based architects. It was first commissioned by Storefront for Art and Architecture in 2009 in New York City. The giant dome hatches in the back of a delivery van. People can enter into the space through the passenger door of the van, then walk through to the dome down a ramp. A fan under the ramp generates the air pressure. The Spacebuster is a not only a backdrop for events but also actively participates in them. The translucent membrane acts as a blurred boundary, so pedestrians can look into the events happening inside the billowing urban room. Images can be projected onto the membrane and can be viewed both from the outside and the inside. It can also accommodate tables and chairs, depending on the program taking place inside. Democracy Lab will feature workshops and talks by The New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv, The Simpsons show-runner and writer Mike Reiss and daily guided readings of The New York Times led by community leaders and writers such as the paper’s own critic Wesley Morris, among others. To see the full calendar of scheduled events, check out this link.
Prospect Park will be celebrating its 150th anniversary tomorrow as the Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) and Prospect Park Alliance put on a special exhibition that will take visitors through the park's history. Titled The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, the show will present panels of information that detail all 585 acres of the park's land. In addition, more than 150 artifacts will be on display including historical scrapbooks, photographs, panels, posters, and postcards. These will include Frederick Law Olmsted's and Calvert B. Vaux's original vision for the park, hand-drawn renderings from the 1990s of the park’s woodlands restoration, and a model of the Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center at Lakeside by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects, which opened in 2013. Running alongside these artifacts will be a selection of pieces from the Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn College Library archives, Brooklyn Public Library’s Brooklyn Collection, as well as the private collection of Brooklyn resident, Bob Levine. Visitors to The Means of a Ready Escape can learn about how sheep once used to graze on the site and how, after that, swan boats, carriage rides, lawn tennis courts, and Robert Moses' modernist plans took their place. Now, Prospect Park is much different, as Brooklynites can testify, but this era of in-line skaters, birders, and dog-walkers is just another chapter in the park's storied history. The Means of a Ready Escape: Brooklyn's Prospect Park runs through July 13, 2018. It's located at 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn, New York. For more, visit the Brooklyn Historical Society's website. If you plan to visit the park soon, don't miss this striking 7,000-pinwheel installation designed by Suchi Reddy.
In Brooklyn's Prospect Park, 7,000 pinwheels are spinning life into a previously underused enclave. This Monday morning, children and families could be found enjoying the Rose Garden (not to be confused with the Cranford Rose Garden) by the Grand Army Plaza where a temporary installation by New York–based architect Suchi Reddy is celebrating the park's 150 anniversary. Known as The Connective Project, the work has been open to the public since Friday, though, thanks to inclement weather, Reddy's work has only truly been enjoyed from the weekend onwards. But perhaps the rain was helpful. Reddy, speaking to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) yesterday morning, said how she had initially wanted to fill the three pools to reflect the brightly-colored installation; the sight of whirring yellow pinwheels augmented by the rippling water would have been a small spectacle to behold. Unfortunately, this couldn't happen as fixing the pools' to make the hold water was too costly. Now some rainwater remains and children can be found playing in the pits that have been turned into mini amphitheaters. "We initially started with orange, though my preference was white as it stands out against the green" Reddy continued, speaking of the pinwheel's color. Instead, the firm settled on yellow, producing what Reddy describes as a "wonderful golden wave." The Indian-born architect has been practicing for 15 years and her firm, Reddymade Design, now works out of Greenwich Village. Reddy added how she was fascinated by pinwheels as a child (and still evidently is) and also chose the shape because she wanted to use an object that would be relatable for all. The pinwheels can be found in three sizes and reside at four different heights; all are perched atop stainless steel rods placed ten inches into the ground. Their orientation and spacing were worked out by Reddy's entire office to produce an undulating mirage of yellow and—thanks to the site's topography—partial views through the installation as well. "I didn't want it to be a static installation just about one thing," explained Reddy. "We wanted to introduce a layer of complexity and create a scene that you can see through." Up close, one can find that some pinwheels are unique and made from rain-proof dust stone paper. After a weekend workshop run by the park, visitors have added their own designs by drawing onto the pinwheels. Some were also printed with artwork already on them; AREA4, the events management group consulted by the Prospect Park Alliance who hired Reddy, facilitated pre-submitted designs. Though only having been open for three days, pathways etched into the grass around The Connective Project indicate the installation is drawing the attention of many, despite its difficulty to find. (Do not, as this author can testify, use Google Maps to locate the installation. Enter by the Grand Army Plaza and follow the yellow pinwheels painted on the ground.) Reddy's work is only on view until July 17th, so hurry before the pinwheels go.
Brooklyn’s Prospect Park will soon receive a refurbished Lakeside Center, with help from a $10 million donation to the Prospect Park Alliance and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The LeFrak family, real estate royalty within the borough and in the Tri-state area, has gifted the sum in support of the oft-delayed green space revamp, which finally set a completion date for December of this year. In the heart of Prospect Park’s 526-acre grounds, project restoration by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien and construction company Sciame will redevelop the Wollman Ice Rink for use during all four seasons. This lakeside facility is to be renamed The Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center, honoring the family’s philanthropy in Brooklyn. After a series of construction schedule setbacks over the past few years, Prospect Park is on track for its grand re-opening. In phase one, finished last year, the project improved its landscaped grounds, some to the original mid-nineteenth century designs by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Now, Tod Williams Billie Tsien will focus on the built structures. The firm plans to replace the original ice rink with a parking lot for greater park accessibility. A new lakeside Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center will offer year-round activities: winter ice-skating and hockey, summer roller-skating, and a water feature with wading pool for children. The architects says the center will maintain a low profile and low consumption, “nestled into the landscape” planned by Olmsted and Vaux. Overall, project costs total $74 million. With the LeFrak family donation, the renovated Prospect Park is scheduled to reopen in the next few weeks.
Superfly Presents, the co-founder and producer of mega-festivals Bonnaroo and Outside Lands, is bringing its park-packing swagger to New York City this summer. The Great GoogaMooga, described as "an amusement park of food and drink," will occupy the Nethermead region of Brooklyn's Prospect Park on May 19th and 20th. The famed pastoral lower meadow of the park will be transformed into "the ultimate sensory experience" by a collaborative design effort led by David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group. The design weaves together to over 75 food vendors, 35 brewers, 30 winemakers and 20 live musicians debut festival. General admission is required but tickets are required and available as of March 15. The event intends to leverage the synergy of two of New York City's most high-energy features: food and music. The Great GoogaMooga, as many extended festivals increasingly tend to do, will focus a large amount of its attention on food. To develop the event concept with Rockwell, Superfly has brought together a number of top chefs and hospitality industry gurus like Anthony Bourdain, Allan Benton, Marcus Samuelsson, Eddie Huang, Garrett Oliver, and many more, with a goal of bringing some of New York’s most loved dining destinations to Prospect Park. Among the festival’s growing list of vendors are Tom Colicchio’s Colicchio & Sons, April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s The Spotted Pig, Roberta’s, Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen & Bar, M.Wells, Do or Dine, Frankies 457 Spuntino, Russ & Daughters and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (click here for a full list of participants). As "the Creative Capital of New York City and an international culinary destination," Brooklyn is the perfect location for such an event, effused Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz in a statement. But while Brooklyn plays host to throngs of hungry, thirsty park-goers in May, those who like the serenity of the local Olmstedian landscape may want to head to Central Park.
Hang up those snowshoes. The NYC Parks Department has officially canceled this year's Winter Jam, an annual event that invites New Yorkers to come try out an array of snow sports in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. What gives? Not only is there no snow in the forecast for the planned February 4 date, but average temperatures are too high for the city to even fake it. "It is simply too warm to make snow, and the long-range weather forecasts and current ground temperatures make it extremely unlikely that snow could be made," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.