For Immediate Release: April 24, 2019
Media Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Cultural Affairs)
women.nyc: ARTISTS AMANDA WILLIAMS AND OLALEKAN JEYIFOUS SELECTED TO DESIGN MONUMENT HONORING SHIRLEY CHISHOLM IN PROSPECT PARK, BROOKLYN
The first monument commissioned under She Built NYC, a new sculpture honoring Shirley Chisholm, will be installed in Prospect Park by the end of 2020
New York – Today, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and women.nyc (NYCEDC) announced that artist team Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous has been selected to design a new monument honoring Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to serve in Congress. The design proposed by the artists, called Our Destiny, Our Democracy, was selected through the City’s Percent for Art program, and will now be refined as it proceeds through additional community input and public review. The monument is the first to be commissioned as part of the She Built NYC program, which seeks to expand representation of women in the City’s public art collection. The Shirley Chisolm monument will be installed in Prospect Park by the end of 2020.
“She Built NYC is transforming public art in our City by honoring the contributions of women who helped build and shape it. Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s dynamic leadership and activism continues to inspire all who learn her story and her service deserves public recognition. This artwork will be bright, bold, and makes a statement – just like Chisholm herself,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray.
“Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous have put forward a fittingly bold vision for how to honor the remarkable Shirley Chisholm,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Next year, New York City will have a new monument that is as multifaceted as Chisholm herself, marking an important step toward making our public spaces better reflect the people who have made our city great.”
“There is no better home for this innovative and groundbreaking new monument to Shirley Chisholm than Brooklyn’s backyard,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP. “Thanks to the She Built NYC initiative, the thousands of New Yorkers and tourists that pass through Prospect Park each day will be inspired by Chisholm’s enduring political and civil legacy.”
“Our project celebrates Shirley Chisholm’s legacy as a civil servant who ‘left the door open’ to make room for others to follow in her path toward equity and a place in our country’s political landscape. We have designed a monument in which her iconic visage can be immediately recognizable while also equally portraying the power, beauty, and dimensionality of her contributions to our democracy,” said Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous.
Click here for an artists’ statement and renderings of the proposal for the Shirley Chisholm monument. All images should be credited to “Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous.” For more information on the artists and their past work, visit their websites Amanda Williams (www.awstudioart.com) and Olalekan Jeyifous (www.jeyifo.us).
DCLA and Percent for Art will now work with the artists to refine design with input from the Parks Department, which is the sponsor agency, Prospect Park Alliance, and community stakeholders. The proposal will then be presented to local community boards for further comment and review, before being submitted to the City’s Public Design Commission this fall. Up to $1 million will be available for the commissioning of the monument.
“Shirley Chisholm used the authority of her experience to create nutrition assistance programs, expand health care services for parents and children, increase the minimum wage, support the veterans of our Armed Forces, and provide opportunities for women in college, graduate school, and collegiate and professional sports with the enactment of Title IX. For this and countless other reasons, we should honor Chisholm’s life and living legacy. Her memorial will be a welcome addition to Prospect Park, and I am proud to be leading the effort in Congress to place her statue in the Capitol building,” said Congresswoman Yvette Clarke.
“The legacy of Shirley Chisholm will forever shape the identity of our borough. She was a tremendous leader who opened the doors of opportunity so that others could follow in her footsteps. I want to commend the artists, Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous, for truly capturing the strength, character, and influence of Shirley Chisholm, and memorializing her accomplishments at the entrance of Prospect Park. This wonderful monument will stand as a testament to her multidimensional prowess as a public servant, and will inspire our community’s emerging leaders for years to come,” said Council Member Dr. Mathieu Eugene.
“Shirley Chisholm was a lifelong New Yorker, but a pioneer for black women everywhere. Her legacy will continue to inspire and empower women for generations. I’m proud to support this public artwork to recognize Shirley Chisholm for her monumental contributions to our city,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Cultural Affairs and Libraries Committee.
“Congratulations to the team of Olalekan Jeyifous, a Nigerian-born artist based in Brooklyn, and Amanda Williams for their dynamic design that reflects the dynamic legacy of Shirley Chisholm. I look forward to this process moving to the next stage with community input and review. Public art and monuments are important exhibitions of our living history, and this piece should exhibit the best of this true catalyst for change as well as show appreciation for all she has done to help build up New York City,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
"Prospect Park Alliance is thrilled to welcome this important monument to Shirley Chisholm to the park," said Sue Donoghue, president of Prospect Park Alliance. "It will be the focal point of the Alliance's Ocean Avenue and Parkside Avenue entrance and perimeter restoration, and we look forward to working with the artist team to create a beloved destination for our diverse community to enjoy in Brooklyn's Backyard."
"I am proud that Shirley Chisholm's incredible contributions and rich legacy will soon be permanently memorialized by these visionary artists," said Faye Penn, Executive Director, women.nyc. "Through powerful initiatives like She Built NYC, we're bringing to light the stories of the women who shaped this great city and making sure women everywhere know that they can 'bring a chair' when they aren't given a seat at the table."
Five artist proposals for the Shirley Chisholm monument were unveiled in March 2019, and the public was invited to provide feedback. This public feedback was presented to the Percent for Art panel that made the final artist selection earlier this month.
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 is part of the women.nyc initiative, which was launched last spring by First Lady Chirlane McCray and former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen to make New York the best city in the world for women to succeed. She Built NYC began 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 portal, 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 year the City announced the next four women who will be honored with public monuments, bringing the total number of monuments initiated through She Built NYC to five, with one in each borough.
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.