After whittling down proposals to a pool of five, a winning design for the city’s new Shirley Chisholm statue was finally announced.
On Wednesday, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and women.nyc (NYCEDC) revealed that the Prospect Park statue will be created by artistic duo Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous.
Chisholm made history in 1968 as the first black woman to be elected to the United States Congress, and the statue pays tribute to this legacy. Titled “Our Destiny, Our Democracy,” Williams and Jeyifous’s design juxtaposes a portrait outline of Chisholm with the dome of the U.S. Capitol building and embeds the sculpture within the park greenspace. The green and gold steel-structure, set to stand at a commanding 40 feet tall, creates ornate patterns that shift depending on the viewer’s vantage point.
“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 Williams and Jeyifous in a joint statement. “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.”
The statue represents the first of five to be commissioned through the She Built NYC initiative, launched last June in response to the dearth of statues dedicated to women in New York City (of the approximately 150 statues scattered across the city, currently only five are historical depictions of women). The monuments erected under the project will be placed throughout the boroughs in locations that are significant to the figures represented, which will also include Billie Holiday, Helen Rodríguez Trías, Elizabeth Jennings Graham and Katherine Walker.
“She Built NYC is transforming public art in our city by honoring the contributions of women who helped build and shape it,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray in the announcement. “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.”
Now that the Chisholm design has been chosen, the proposal will go through the advisement of local community boards before the final version is presented to New York City’s Public Design Commission later this year. The monument is set to be installed in Prospect Park by the end of 2020.
Top Image: Shirley Chisholm Statue. Photo: Amanda Williams and Olalekan Jeyifous.