c. Obed Obwoge

Alliance Debuts Adama Delphine Fawundu’s ‘Ancestral Whispers’

June 28, 2024

Prospect Park Alliance’s first ReImagine Lefferts Artist in Residence Adama Delphine Fawundu’s large-scale, site-specific installation, Ancestral Whispers is now on view at Lefferts Historic House.  

In 2021, the Alliance launched the ReImagine Lefferts initiative, funded through a Humanities in Place grant from the Mellon Foundation. The initiative seeks to re-envision the mission and programming of the museum to focus on exploring the lives, resistance and resilience of the Indigenous people of Lenapehoking, whose unceded ancestral lands the park and house rests upon, and the Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. By focusing on stories of resistance, resilience, empowerment and joy, while also recognizing the legacies of dispossession, enslavement and oppression, the Alliance seeks to create a safe space for engaging with our collective past as well as contemporary issues affecting our communities today.

Fawundu is a lifelong Brooklynite, photographer and visual artist whose work centers around themes of indigenization and ancestral memory, which earned her a 2024 Guggenheim Fellowship. “When the Alliance reached out it was so special because we were both on a specific trajectory. My whole existence is based in this neighborhood. The smell of the grass when it rains in the park means so much to me…I have such a history here. It felt very much like a 360 degree event to connect with the ReImagine team here in Prospect Park,” reflects Artist in Residence, Adama Delphine Fawundu on initial conversations with the Alliance.

For her commission, Fawundu created a large-scale, site-specific installation inspired by the research the Alliance conducted into the lives of Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. To date, the Alliance has identified 25 people enslaved at the house between its 1783 construction and the 1827 abolition of slavery in New York. Fawundu created 25 fabric banners that transform the house’s Flatbush Avenue facade, honoring the heroism of these Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family. In addition, Fawundu’s 2020 video performance piece, In the Face of History Freedom Cape, filmed in part in Prospect Park and Lefferts Historic House, is on view.

“Art can be such a powerful tool for social justice, and for a dialogue about legacy, agency and creativity. When we have art in public spaces, we create meaningful opportunities for people to reflect on the beauty of the artwork in fellowship with other park users and with nature,” says Prospect Park Alliance President, Morgan Monaco. “Prospect Park Alliance welcomes the entire community to join us for the debut of our first Artist in Residence and the second season of our ReImagine Lefferts initiative, which has shifted our interpretation to tell these stories of resistance and resilience. It is my hope that visitors will see a version of themselves represented in this museum and feel seen, honored and welcome. The season is an especially significant one as we share Ancestral Whispers with our community, which celebrates the heroism of Africans enslaved by the Lefferts family, and leverages the power of art to heal deep-seated wounds from our nation’s past.”

5.30.24 Lefferts Reception, Adama Delphine Fawundu, Ancestral Whispers

Visit Ancestral Whispers at Lefferts Historic House June through September on Thursdays – Sundays at 12 pm to 5 pm or October through December 1 on Saturdays + Sundays at 12 pm to 4 pm.