Major Art Installation Celebrates Brooklyn Community

October 5, 2020

BRIC and Prospect Park Alliance, in partnership with NYC Parks, have commissioned the collaborative duo Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine to create a public art project at the Prospect Park Bandshell, on view from October 3, 2020 through June 2021. Titled, Inspired By “What Is Left,” the text-based installation quotes the late poet Lucille Clifton and offers the Brooklyn community a message of resilience and perseverance. 

With this new public art installation, BRIC and Prospect Park Alliance present a powerful message for the Brooklyn community. It is the first major public art project in Prospect Park since the pandemic, and one of the first installations at the Bandshell in its history.

“This public art work provides a message of strength and joy, celebrating and uniting our community during these difficult times,” states BRIC’s President, Kristina Newman-Scott. “We are delighted to continue our important partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance through this meaningful activation of the Bandshell inspired by a local and engaged arts collective.”

“In the past six months, Prospect Park has played an essential role in our community, and we could not be more delighted than to welcome the Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine to Brooklyn’s Backyard,” said Sue Donoghue, President, Prospect Park Alliance. “We are pleased to be able to extend this new collaboration to our partnership with BRIC, and to celebrate and illuminate the resilience of our community through public art.” 

Inspired By “What Is Left” is an extension of Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine’s ongoing project in Crown Heights which reimagines unoccupied public spaces with new alternative purposes. Brooklyn Hi-Art! Machine was created in 2010 by artists Oasa DuVerney and Mildred Beltre. Their monumentally-scaled text-based fence weavings, inspired by the neon colors of protest posters, publicly address the current moment by often unheard voices in Black Radical Thought and take a barrier meant to separate an immigrant community and envision it as a space for community knowledge and uplift. The artwork aims to remind viewers of the struggles that have been faced and the work yet to be done for racial equity. It references lines from a poem by Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), a prolific poet and two time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Clifton wrote about the Black experience and endurance in the face of adversity, using substantive yet pared down lines.

“won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton  
won’t you celebrate with me
what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.
born in babylon
both nonwhite and woman
what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed.

Source: Book of Light (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

Prospect Park has always played an important role as a gathering space for the melting pot of people and cultures that make Brooklyn unique. This has come even more to the forefront during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement, where it has served as the backdrop for moments of protest and joy, celebration and memorialization, making it the perfect location for this installation.  

For over 40 years, BRIC has presented its signature summer concert series, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival, at the Prospect Park Bandshell. From its very first performance in summer of 1979, the mission of the Festival has been to bring Brooklyn together. These free experiences at the Bandshell enhance the quality of life and understanding of the world by centralizing diverse voices and illuminating the vibrant cultures that make Brooklyn unique.