City Approves Design for Shirley Chisholm Monument in Prospect Park

On Monday, city officials approved a design for a memorial to Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress in 1968, to represent neighborhoods including the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where she grew up. A national symbol for the empowerment of women and people of color, Chisholm was also the first woman to ask for it. Democratic presidential nomination.

The Public Design Commission, which has the authority to administer the city’s permanent art collection, unanimously approved a 32-foot-tall yellow-and-green congressman sculpture, slightly scaled down from the original design. It rises near the southeast entrance of Prospect Park. Artists Amanda Williams and Olalecan B. Jayfaus unveiled the first concept over four years ago. The Department of Culture calls it the first permanent public art piece dedicated to a woman in Brooklyn history.

Chisholm died in 2005 at the age of 80. His obituary in The New York Times recalled Chisholm as “an outspoken, steely educator-turned-politician who broke down racial and gender barriers.” In 2019, the Chisholm Memorial was proposed as the headliner for “She Built NYC,” an ambitious program created by former First Lady de Blasio’s administration. Charlene McRae — pledges up to $10 million over four years to diversify urban sculpture; At the time, there were only five public works of art dedicated to women in the city.

However, the program failed to live up to its promise. The Chisholm memorial was due to be completed by the end of 2020, but was delayed by the pandemic and the inauguration of a new mayoral government by Eric Adams two years later.Efforts to memorialize additional women, including Billie Holiday Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trias, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Catherine Walker and the Transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Riveraand is stuck on the city’s agenda without a firm plan or dedicated designer.

Over the past four years, Williams and Jay Fuss have scaled back their original proposal to satisfy city officials and comply with accessibility laws. The steel sculpture is now 8 feet smaller. Sinking elements such as fences and ramps around the base have also been removed.

In a presentation to the Public Design Commission on Monday, the artists said the monument (which also includes images of the plants in Barbados, where she spent the ages of 5 to 9) was designed by Chisholm to promote democracy in the country. He said it would be a symbol of how he has confused perceptions of who belongs in the ideological system. You left the door open to future generations of women.

“Depending on your vantage point and approach to Prospect Park’s Ocean Avenue entrance, you can see Ms. Chisholm’s silhouette intertwined closely with the iconic Capitol Dome,” they said in a statement. rice field. “This pioneering woman was by no means small, and this memorial reflects how Chisholm’s collaborative ideals were bigger than herself.”

While some critics object to the Chisholm memorial being placed further north outside Brooklyn’s original neighborhood, others point out that she was an advocate for the entire neighborhood. In 1972, she announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the first black woman to seek the nomination of a major political party. Senator George McGovern of South Dakota would eventually win the nomination, but would lose the election to President Richard Nixon.

chisholms campaign slogan When she ran for president, she was “unbought and freed from bosses.”

Ahead of the hearing, some historians congratulated the city on its approval of the monument, but asked for more answers on how the authorities will fund the sculpture’s maintenance going forward. Across the city, monuments have been abandoned for decades and are collapsing with multi-million dollar preservation bills. On the opposite side of the park where the Chisholm statue is installed, Soldiers and Sailors Arch It is now covered with scaffolding and is slated for a $6 million renovation.

“They have to build these things to stand the times,” said Michelle H. Bogart, an art historian who specializes in public works for the city.

But on the whole, Bogart was happy that Chisholm was honored. “If some people are concerned about the lack of a memorial to women, this is an attempt to make up for it,” she says. “The silhouette of her hairstyle will echo off the trees in the park.”

During the hearing, officials praised the monument as “beautiful” and a potential gathering place for political activists. “This is the most exciting project I have seen since becoming Commissioner,” he said. Jimmy Van Brammera former New York City Council member who joined the Public Design Commission in December.

He said the sculpture would serve as a backdrop for political rallies and marches, adding, “I think Shirley Chisholm would like the idea.”

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