Property Seizure Series Inspires Artwork

Tomashi Jackson (Photo by Tsubasa Berg via KCP)

A Kings County Politics investigation into the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s  seizure of predominantly Black-owned properties prompted a ruling last month in favor of the owners. In late April, it will be the subject of works of art to be shown at the Tilton Gallery on the Upper East Side, and in May, the artwork will be featured in the Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

A portrait of Marlene Saunders, 74, who nearly lost her Crown Heights brownstone, is part of Jackson’s work. (Photo by Tsubasa Berg via KCP)

The series of articles inspired artist Tomashi Jackson to blend together photos from the KCP series with archival materials of Seneca Village (located in what is now Central Park), and in turn show how the two stories mirror each other despite taking place centuries apart.

“Sometime last year, I came across your journalism. I came across one of the first three pieces in your series of what you guys call the, ‘The City Real Estate Scandal,’ about the city’s Third Party Transfer program. I came across the pieces and I immediately thought of Seneca Village, which was a primarily black owned-community of about 800 acres in what is now Central Park,” Jackson told KCP reporters Stephen Witt and Kelly Mena.

Jackson added: “I keep seeing correlations between the dispossession of those people and the attempted [dispossession] of the people in the series.”

Go to Kings County Politics to read how the story of Seneca Village parallels the seizures of properties in central Brooklyn. And how Jackson is using art and texts to tell how when it comes to Black ownership in the city, some things remain the same regardless of the time period.

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