PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDEN — The city, on Wednesday, announced the winning duo to create the Shirley Chisholm monument slated for the Parkside Avenue entrance of Prospect Park.
Artists Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous proposed “Our Destiny, Our Democracy” as the winning submission. Percent for Art, a division under the Department of Cultural Affairs (DLCA) which commissions artists to construct site-specific art installations, selected the winning candidates from a pool of five finalists.
The artists integrated the U.S. Capitol building in their 40-foot steel design to mirror the scenery often depicted in Chisholm’s photographs. Ornate greenery patterns weave throughout the green and gold installation to represent the park setting.
Each vantage point of the structure projects a different scene. And the height of the installation rivals nearby trees.
“Shirley Chisholm wanted to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America and her name and image have become synonymous with possibility,” the artists said in a joint statement. “Our project celebrates her 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 country’s political landscape.”
The DCLA will work with the artists to refine the installation. With input from the New York City Parks Department and neighborhood stakeholders, the project will then go through a public review.
The city’s SheBuilt NYC initiative, responsible for the project, began in June 2018 to close the gender gap within the city’s 150 statues, of which only 5 are of women. Last August, the agency held an open call for New Yorkers to submit their nominations of women deserving of a statue in their likeness.
Last month, the city announced the locations of four other monuments to be placed throughout the boroughs. Chisholm was the first to receive the honor in late November.
Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924, in Brooklyn, New York, to immigrant Caribbean parents. She first served New York as a member of the Assembly from 1965 to 1968. After her assembly run, she went on to serve seven terms in the U.S. Congress representing the 12th Congressional district. Chisholm launched her campaign with the slogan: “Unbought and Unbossed,” a mantra still used today. Chisholm died in 2005.
“This artwork will be bright, bold, and makes a statement – just like Chisholm herself,” said first lady Chirlane McCray in a statement.
About the Artists
Amanda Williams is a visual artist who trained as an architect at Cornell University. Williams, 44, currently lives and works on the Southside of Chicago. Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago permanently displays her work. Williams is a 2018 United States Ford Fellow. Last year the MCA Chicago curated a solo exhibit of the artist’s work. She’s a member of the museum design team for the Obama Presidential Center.
Olalekan Jeyifous is a Brooklyn-based designer who hails from Nigeria. He too graduated from Cornell Univerisity with a bachelors in Architecture. The Museum of Harlem, MoMA and the Guggenheim in Balboa, Spain are among the venues that have exhibited his work. Jeyifous, 41, spent over a decade creating large-scale artwork, including a piece dubbed, “Protest!” in Cleveland’s Public Square. He’s responsible for creating an art structure in the Starbucks located at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center.