FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 27, 2019
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SHE BUILT NYC: CITY UNVEILS FIVE PRELIMINARY ARTIST PROPOSALS FOR SHIRLEY CHISHOLM MONUMENT IN PROSPECT PARK
Based on these proposals, a final artist will be selected in early April through the City’s Percent for Art program
Brooklyn, NY – Today, the City released five preliminary artist proposals for a new monument honoring Shirley Chisholm in Prospect Park, the first artwork being commissioned as part of the She Built NYC initiative to bring more monuments honoring women to New York City’s public spaces. The public is invited to comment on the proposals online at women.nyc through Sunday, March 31.
“Following the Mayoral Monuments Commission report, we committed to expanding the people, stories, and voices represented in our public monuments,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We were thrilled to announce Shirley Chisholm as the first person honored, and we’re excited to get a first look at what these artists are envisioning for this lasting testament to Chisholm’s trailblazing achievements. We invite all New Yorkers let us know what they think and help shape this landmark contribution to NYC’s public space.”
"The contributions Rep. Shirley Chisholm made to this country are immeasurable," said Faye Penn, executive director of women.nyc. "The She Built NYC statue honoring this trailblazer is a way for New Yorkers to thank her for advocating in the halls of power on their behalf. We look forward to hearing feedback from the public and thank the artists for their moving representations of this American hero."
“Shirley Chisholm, a true daughter of Brooklyn, born of West Indian immigrants who settled in Bedford-Stuyvesant, was one of this nation’s greatest dreamers. A monument of this magnitude, dedicated to the first person in 192 years to embody the triple threat of being Black, a woman, and a representative of Congress, is most deserving of this lasting recognition. It is long overdue,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
"I am absolutely delighted to see the preliminary renderings of the installation that will honor Shirley Chisholm in Brooklyn. It can't be said enough how truly groundbreaking and courageous Shirley was. Whether running for president or opposing the Vietnam War, Shirley stood by her convictions, not what was politically expedient. We all owe Shirley a huge debt of gratitude -- it is so very meaningful that she is the first woman to be recognized through the long overdue She Built NYC initiative," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Women.
Shirley Chisholm is the first monument announced as part of She Built NYC, an initiative to construct public monuments honoring the New York City women who have changed history. The effort kicked off with an open call for nominations in June 2018, and from these public nominations, Shirley Chisholm was selected and announced in November 2018 in recognition of her role as a political trailblazer who was both the first black Congresswoman and the first woman to seek the Democratic presidential nomination. The monument is anticipated to be completed by the end of 2020 and will be installed at the Parkside entrance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
The finalists whose proposals are being considered are Firelei Báez, La Vaughn Belle, Tanda Francis, Mickalene Thomas, and Amanda Williams & Olalekan Jeyifous. Their proposals can be viewed at women.nyc.
These five artists were selected at an initial Percent for Art panel in January 2019. Following the public feedback period for these preliminary proposals, a second Percent for Art panel will select a finalist, who will then refine the design before presenting to local community boards and submitting it to the Public Design Commission later this year. Up to $1 million will be available for the commissioning of the monument.
This monument will be installed as a part of Prospect Park Alliance’s $9.5 million restoration of the Parkside and Ocean Avenue perimeters and entrance to the park, which is made possible through $6.7 million in funding by Mayor de Blasio, $2 million in funding from Borough President Eric L. Adams and $750,000 in funding from Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene. This large-scale restoration by the Alliance will include new sidewalks and paving, new historic lighting and street furniture, the planting of new trees and the addition of a protected bike lane.
She Built NYC started with an open call asking the public to nominate women, groups of women, or events involving women that significantly impacted the history of New York City. Through the women.nyc website, the public submitted nearly 2,000 nominations. Ninety-eight percent of respondents said they would like to see a woman honored who was committed to social reform or justice. The most frequently used word in the submissions was “first,” followed by “leader” and then “advocate.” An advisory panel with individuals representing a broad range of expertise and backgrounds helped refine the public submissions list and provided recommendations to the City.
Earlier this month, the City announced the next four women who will be honored with public monuments, bringing the total of monuments initiated through She Built NYC to five, with one in each borough. She Built NYC is an initiative of women.nyc, which was launched in May 2018 by First Lady Chirlane McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen to ensure that New York remains the best city in the world for women to succeed.
The launch of She Built NYC followed a report issued by the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers in January 2018, which led Mayor de Blasio to order actions on a number of its recommendations. Most critically, the report called for adding more voices and broader representation to the City’s collection of public art to better reflect its diverse history. Other efforts underway in response to the Monuments Commission report include “Beyond Sims,” which is commissioning new artwork for the former site of the J. Marion Sims statue along the edge of Central Park in East Harlem. The statue of Sims was removed in April 2018 following years of community advocacy.
When women succeed, the greatest city in the world becomes even better. Women.nyc is a groundbreaking initiative that not only inspires women to advance their careers, but also provides them with the real tools they need for success. From free expert legal advice, to networking and mentorship, to financial assistance, women.nyc offers a growing portfolio of resources for working women. Join women across the five boroughs and make your #nycpowermove with the help and support of women.nyc.
About Percent for Art
Since 1982, New York City's Percent for Art law has required that one percent of the budget for eligible City-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork. Managed by the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs, the Percent for Art program has commissioned hundreds of site-specific projects in a variety of media—painting, new technologies, lighting, mosaic, glass, textiles, sculpture, and works that are integrated into infrastructure and architecture—by artists whose sensibilities reflect the diversity of New York City. Learn more at www.nyc.gov/percent.