Monument to Honor Chisholm Selected

Rendering of “Our Destiny, Our Democracy,” the planned monument to Shirley Chisholm by Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous (Courtesy of the artists, via BK Reader)

By late 2020, a colorful, intricate 40 ft. high monument to the trailblazing Rep. Shirley Chisholm will be built in Prospect Park, the first of several public works planned to honor women in New York City as part of the She Built NYC initiative announced last year. Chisholm, the Brooklyn-born child of immigrants from the Caribbean, served in the U.S. House of representatives for seven terms, died in 2005 and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously in 2015.

The design team Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous call their proposed work “Our Destiny, Our Democracy.” They beat out four other finalists in the competition which was conducted by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art programBK Reader’s Andrea Leonhardt describes the winning entry in the competition to build that monument.

“Our Destiny, Our Democracy” will blend different images of Chisholm intertwined with the dome of the U.S. Capitol building into one 40-foot lace-like steel installation. This mashup, according to the artists’ statement, “symbolizes how she disrupted the perception of who has the right to occupy such institutions and to be an embodiment for democracy.”

Set in an amphitheater-like space, scattered with bronzed seats, the monument is designed to welcome people in, reflecting Chisholm’s legacy advocating for marginalized groups in her fight for equality and inclusion. Some seats will be engraved with the names of other pioneering women that followed the late congresswoman’s path; others are left blank for future women trailblazers to claim their seat. The monument is embellished with ornate patterns of vegetation, inspired by traditional park gates, that make reference to the monument’s home in Prospect Park.

“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,” said Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous. “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.”

Read more about the work, and the artists who designed the winning competition entry, at BK Reader.

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