c. Martin Seck

Experience a Prospect Park Soundwalk

June 8, 2022

Did you know deep, resonant sound can be heard inside trees, among the roots of plants, in shifting soils, in streambeds, rivers, and even in mud–and that the sounds of the subway and airplanes can be heard in the soils of our local parks? From May 14, 2022 – May 2023, experience the sounds of Prospect Park in a new immersive way with artist Nikki Lindt’s the Underground Sound Project, a Soundwalk.

The Underground Sound Project is an interactive public art installation in partnership with Prospect Park Alliance, NYC Parks, USDA Forest Service, and The Nature of Cities based on a series of underground acoustic recordings made by Lindt. The soundwalk begins along a wooded trail, starting at a trailhead by Dog Beach. The recordings were made by placing microphones underground, underwater and even inside trees. Visitors on the soundwalk will experience a stream, a maple tree, the forest floor, wildflowers, and many more park features in a new light. At designated locations along the walk, visitors will be able to experience the corresponding subsurface sounds in a series of one minute videos accessed on The Underground Sound Projects’ interactive website. 

Underground acoustics tell us a lot about the soils beneath us, but also about ourselves. Our human created sounds often affect this subterranean world in unexpected ways. The Underground Sound Project encourages visitors to explore this exciting and mysterious frontier but also asks us to slow down, listen deeply, and by doing so, gain a more intimate view and connection to the expansive world right beneath us.

Learn more about  Prospect Park’s woodlands and waterways as well as Prospect Park Alliance’s work restoring and sustaining woodland areas.

Andrea Pippins

Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage in Prospect Park

May 4, 2022

Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage Month in Prospect Park with I AM caribBEING, JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE, BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project, and Prospect Park Alliance. Enjoy Caribbean film, live music, dance, wellness and much more during this cultural celebration for Brooklynites of all ages. All participating artists and practitioners have roots in Little Caribbean NYC, and hail from Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti and elsewhere.

I AM caribBEING is supported by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid and Showtime.

RSVP today for these upcoming events!

I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Rockers + Dre Island
Sunday, June 5, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 7-10pm
Prospect Park Alliance and I AM caribBEING kick off Caribbean-American Heritage Month with the cult classic film, Rockers. The 1978 film offers a tale of struggle and triumph in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. Protagonist, Horsemouth, knows all too well the difficulty it takes to get into the music business in Kingston. Although talented, he earns very little and hustles to make ends meet. As tension begins to build with the local mafia after they steal his motorbike, Horsemouth and his friends concoct a plan to bring their reign of terror to an end and bring justice the the people of Kingston.

Prior to the film, multi-talented singer, keyboardist Dre Island, hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, will join the celebration for a very special performance. Complex calls him “one of the most refreshing voices in reggae right now.” With his gravelly vocals and calm demeanor, he evokes a mystery and edge that gravitates reggae and dancehall fans alike. The versatile artist has collaborated with the likes of UK R&B singer Jorja Smith, contemporary reggae star Chronixx and Jamaican dancehall artists like Popcaan and Skillibeng. In June, he will release his sophomore album High Times, which follows his 2020 debut, Now I Rise.

 

ALERT: Canceled due to predicted sever weather, check back for reschedule date TBD.
I AM  caribBEING Prospect Park: Lean Strong Fast Hike
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 9-11am
Join I AM caribBEING and Prospect Park Alliance to learn to improve your fitness and wellness regimens with the Little Caribbean-based performance team, Lean Strong Fast. Attendees will be guided through the park on either a beginner or intermediate level hike-walk based on their comfort level. Bring out your sneakers and come join us in the park!

 

RESCHEDULED: Tribute to the Rhythm Workshop
Now Thursday, June 16 (was Sunday, June 12)
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 6-9pm
Join Prospect Park Alliance, JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE and BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project for a workshop in Prospect Park this June which gives tribute to The Rhythm Section, The Iron Men, and the other percussionists that create the dynamic rhythm section so essential to Steelpan and Calypso music. Participants will learn about the history and role of drummers through speakers and performances. All ages are invited to enjoy the workshop.

 

I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Juneteenth + One Love Little Caribbean Day
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 4-9pm
Join Prospect Park Alliance and I AM caribBEING for Juneteenth, I AM caribBEING style, with live performance by Grammy-Award winning Angela Hunte backed by Da Jerry Wonda Band, peer-to-peer gaming powered by Fun With Friends DJ sets by Gab Soul + Khalil and Little Caribbean artisan vendors.

Escape the excitement and enter the calming Rooftop Oasis showcasing local Black-owned self-care brands on the Boathouse’s Rooftop. Upon entering this haven, guests can choose their wellness adventure. From refreshing natural elixirs to essential oil blends for whatever ails you, Rooftop Oasis will take you there and bring you back to life.

Rooftop Oasis is curated by I DON’T DO CLUBS and TAKE CARE WELLNESS

I AM caribBEING Prospect Park: Brukwine
Sunday, June 26, 2022
Location: Prospect Park Boathouse
Time: 2pm-2:45pm
Are you ready to wukkup and juk? Join I AM caribBEING and BRUKWINE for a high energy workout routine. This Caribbean inspired dance workout is sure to get your heart rate up, hips moving and thighs burning!

I AM caribBEING is supported by NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, Con Edison, TD Bank, National Grid and Showtime.

Carousel Horses Restored Ahead of Opening Day

April 13, 2022

Prospect Park’s Carousel reopens for the 2022 season on April 14! The Carousel has been a beloved staple of the park since 1912, and while countless rides on the stately horses and creatures have left a mark, you won’t find any chipped paint this year. This is thanks to Architectural Conservator Assya Plavskina’s meticulous work conserving and refining the carousel’s trademark details and colors, and original design.

The horses of Prospect Park’s Carousel last went through a major restoration in the late 1980s-early 1990s and were lovingly maintained by Lucio Schiavone until 2014. Plavskina started her work by stripping the figures of old varnish, removing flaking paint, and filled in areas of missing or failing paint, being careful to exactly match the paint already on the figures. The difficult task of matching colors required Plavskina to use her background in chemistry as a historical conservator to get the hues just right.

Learn more about Carousel operating days, tickets and hours!

c. Assya Plavskina

Plavsinka’s work also pays homage to the original roots of the carousel. “The design of the figures is heavy in gilding, as is typical of the work of Charles Carmel, the famous early-20th century carousel figure carver responsible for these figures, so it was important to make sure that this element was visible and prominent.” Plavskina used a metal leafing to match the existing gold and silver leaf.

“My intention was to stabilize all of the existing paint and gilding, fill in any particularly large areas of loss to match exactly what was intended to be there, and to ensure that all of the artistic finishes are well-protected against the intense use that the Carousel gets.”

c. Assya Plavskina

A fun-fact from the conservation process: before the work could get started, the figures needed a cleaning with soap that would not damage the paint. It’s common for conservators to turn to other trades when selecting appropriate tools, and in this case, Plavskina turned to the horse-care trade—the soap with which the Carousel horses were cleaned was actually intended for the cleaning of real horses!

The Carousel is one of the park’s most cherished and time-honored attractions for many park-goers, including Plavskina herself: “One of my favorite things about working on the Carousel was seeing the constant stream of children eagerly holding on to the closed railings, pointing out their favorite horses, and expressing how eager they were to ride again. Of course, they do not know, or care, that the horses may look identical to how they did 100 years ago, or the exact perfect color match of each paint, or what work goes into making sure that that paint remains stable and the Carousel remains running. But what is important is that they recognize their favorite horse, and they can continue to come back to the Carousel and feel the same feeling year after year. My mother-in-law used to come to the carousel with her own mother when she was a child in the 60s and 70s, and this year, she will be taking my children, her grandkids, to the Carousel. It is that continuation of history and community that conserving and maintaining the Carousel allows that is so beautiful to me.”

The Prospect Park Carousel is open Thursdays-Sundays, April-October. Learn more about tickets, discounts with Alliance membership, and booking a birthday party at the Carousel.

Elizabeth Keegin Colley

Alliance Launches Poetry Partnership with Writing the Land

February 23, 2022

Prospect Park Alliance is partnering with Writing the Land, which connects poets with land set aside for people and nature to foster collaboration between the environmental and creative communities. Prospect Park Alliance has partnered with Writing the Land to commission four poets to produce work about Prospect Park and share their work with the Brooklyn community: Black poet Rachelle Parker, and Native American poets Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet and Ty Defoe.

This partnership is a stage for diverse voices to engage in a dialogue about the park and its history, an important part of Prospect Park Alliance’s community engagement work. The collaboration, while embracing the park as a whole, connects to the Alliance’s Re-Imagine Lefferts initiative, currently underway, which seeks to re-envision the mission and programming of the park’s historic house museum to recognize its role as a site of slavery and to elevate the voices of the enslaved Africans who lived and worked the land, and the Indigenous people that were forced to leave their ancestral lands at the time of Dutch colonization.

“Our partnership with Writing the Land fits incredibly well into the work of the Alliance,” says Maria Carrasco, the Alliance’s Vice President of Public Programs. “Poetry is empowering and the perfect vehicle for engaging our community in contemplating the viewpoints of traditionally unheard voices. The spoken word can provide members of our community with new ways of thinking, and hopefully will encourage them to actively participate in social change and civic engagement here in the park and beyond.”

“Writing the Land is excited to expand our work with traditional land trusts to more diverse organizations that protect land,” says director of Writing the Land, Lis McLoughlin, PhD. ”Prospect Park is an amazing resource for its community and beyond, and we were delighted to find they were very open to using poetry as a way to highlight the great work they do. Our poets are looking forward to building bridges between the park and those who love and use it.”

The poets will spend the next several months visiting the park and creating poems inspired by the land, which will culminate in a reading in the park in October. Prospect Park poets will be featured performers, and they will give a sneak peek of some poems they are preparing for the Writing the Land Anthology to be published in December.

From left to right: Michaeline Picaro, Opalanietet, Rachelle Parker, Ty Defoe

Michaeline Picaro is a member of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation Turtle Clan. As a traditionalist with knowledge of medicinal plants, Picaro is currently seeking to further her expertise and is enrolled at Chamberlain College to receive her nursing BSN to further assist the Turtle Clan with nursing needs and assessments. Picaro is also a co-founder of the Munsee Three Sisters Medicinal Farm which creates jobs and works toward food sovereignty. She is a co-founder of Ramapough Culture and Land Foundation, which preserves and restores the economic, social, cultural, sacred and environmental assets of the Ramapough Munsee ancestral lands.Picaro carries the Clan Mother title and is a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribe and preservationist for ceremonial landscapes.

Opalanietet is a member of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape tribal nation of New Jersey.  Since graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Opalanietet has performed in workshops and productions at renowned New York theatrical institutions including New Dramatists, LaMaMa E.T.C. and New York City Opera at Lincoln Center. In 2012, Opalanietet founded Eagle Project, a theater company dedicated to exploring the American identity through the performing arts and Native American heritage. Opalanietet is currently studying for his doctorate in Theatre & Performance Studies at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center.

Rachelle Parker is a Nassawadox-born, Brooklyn-bred writer. She was selected the winner of the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, was awarded third prize in the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award and was a finalist in Rhino Founders’ Prize. She was recognized in the Arts By The People – 2021 Moving Words. Her work appears in About Place Journal, The Adirondack Review, Taint Taint Taint Magazine and she is a contributor to the anthology The BreakBeat Poets: Black Girl Magic. Her photography also debuted in Orion Magazine.

Ty Defoe is an Indigiqueer citizen of the Oneida Nation and Anishinaabe Nations. Defoe is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and Grammy Award winner. Defoe aspires to an “interweaving and glitterizing approach to artistic projects with liberation and environmentalism.” Defoe’s global cultural arts highlights include the Millennium celebration in Cairo, Egypt; International Music Festival in Ankara, Turkey; and Festival of World Cultures in Dubai. The artist’s accolades range from the Global Indigenous Heritage Festival Award, Jonathan Larson Award, Helen Merrill Playwriting Award 2021, and Cultural Capital Fellowship with First People’s Fund 2021.

Black History Spotlight: Otto Neals’ Peter & Willie

February 17, 2022

Otto Neals, a Brooklyn resident and one of the first Black artists to have work featured in a New York City park, has a remarkable knack for bringing stories to life. Neals is the sculptor behind Peter & Willie, the beloved statue of a boy and his dog in Prospect Park’s Imagination Playground, located along Ocean Avenue just south of the Lincoln Road entrance to the park. Since its installation in 1997 as part of the Alliance’s complete reconstruction of this playground, Peter & Willie has been a source of joy, fun and inspiration to countless families.

Neals has discussed his inspiration for the piece and his connection to Peter and Willie, the two protagonists of Ezra Jack Keats’ stories The Snowy Day and Peter’s Chair. In a 2021 interview with Current News, Neals recalled fond memories of reading Keats’ work with his kids, but being puzzled by the story of a Black boy told by a white author and illustrator.

Christian Zimmerman, Vice President of Capital and Landscape Management for Prospect Park Alliance, oversaw the project and worked closely with Neals. “Prospect Park Alliance and the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation wanted to recognize the storybook characters from Keats’ work, so we had a competition to select an artist for the job,” Zimmerman recounts, “and the select committee was really taken by Otto’s concept.”

Imagination Playground is a hub for imagination and creativity. “It is a very special type of playground, and not a playground in the traditional sense. There aren’t any swings or moving play equipment. It is really intended for children 6 and under, and it’s about (embracing) storytelling,” Zimmerman expressed. Neals’ proposed vision for Peter & Willie fit seamlessly with this intention.

Once installed, the sculpture was immediately and wholeheartedly embraced by the community. “The bronze piece’s original patina was a deep dark blue…and if you rub bronze, eventually the patina goes away. The very first place the deep blue disappeared was on Peter’s ears,” Zimmerman recalls. “Otto designed it in a way that was so accessible that children would sit down next to Peter and tell him secrets. They would whisper in his ear, and have conversations with Peter. They still do!” From the boulder the characters are perched upon, to the scale of the characters themselves, each element of Peter & Willie’s stature is intentional and has informed the community’s long standing connection to the piece and to Imagination Playground.

As a self-taught artist, Neals has said, “My talent as an artist comes directly from my ancestors. I am merely a receiver, an instrument for receiving some of the energies that permeate our entire universe and I give thanks for having been chosen to absorb those artistic forces.” Neals is committed to creating art for his Brooklyn community, and has succeeded in providing inspiration and art in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

Neals and Zimmerman and the project’s contractor in 1996 en route to select the boulder where Peter and Willy sit today. Photo courtesy of Christian Zimmerman.

Now in his 90s, Neals continues to inspire artists in Brooklyn and beyond to create community-centered work and has provided generations of families and kids with joy and fun through Peter & Willie. The piece is an honorary Literary Landmark in partnership with the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and is a steadfast cherished destination and source of inspiration in Brooklyn’s backyard.

Learn more about the Park’s 7 playgrounds and things to do with children. 

c. Elizabeth-Keegin-Colley

Explore Prospect Park’s Waterways

January 25, 2022

Take a free, self-guided audio tour of Prospect Park’s watercourse—a marvel of nature, history and eco-innovation. The tour is presented by Prospect Park Alliance, in partnership with artist Mary Mattingly and More Art, and powered by Gesso. The tour serves as an educational component of the ecoWEIR pilot program currently operating in Prospect Park, and is presented through funding from the Environmental Protection Fund Grant Program for Park Services, administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.

Prospect Park, Brooklyn’s landmark park, is a natural wonder but also a feat of engineering: home to the borough’s last remaining forest and only lake, the park’s watercourse is fed by the New York City water supply. The free, self-guided audio tour provides a new perspective on the natural and human-made ecosystems found in Prospect Park, and its connection to New York City’s water supply. From the natural ponds, local springs, and streams that were here before the park, to the waterways designed by park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux that today are fed by watersheds as far as 125 miles north of the city, to the future health of these waterways through an innovative ecoWEIR that uses plants to filter water—the tour peels back layers of history, environmental stewardship, and human intervention that are hidden beneath the surface.

The tour begins at the Grand Army Plaza entrance of the park and ends on Wellhouse Drive in the park, a total of 2.02 miles and 12 narrated stops. The route includes a steep set of stairs in the Ravine and passes over dirt/gravel and paved paths. There is an accessible restroom at the end of the tour located at the Wellhouse. 

c. Elizabeth Keegin Colley

The Last Stand: An Experimental Opera for Trees

August 12, 2021

Prospect Park Alliance and NYC Parks Art in the Parks is partnering with Creative Time to present artist Kamala Sankaram’s first public artwork, The Last Stand, in Brooklyn’s Backyard.

On view September 18–October 10, this public sound installation and experimental opera for and about trees invites audiences to consider the complex and expansive life cycle of one of our most vital natural resources. 

Prospect Park is home to Brooklyn’s last remaining forest with more than 30,000 trees and many species of native flora that are an integral habitat to the hundreds of species of birds and wildlife.

“Since our founding in 1987, Prospect Park Alliance has played a critical role in revitalizing the park’s 250 acres of core woodlands,” said Sue Donoghue, President of Prospect Park Alliance and Park Administrator. “The park’s 30,000 trees are the ‘lungs’ of Brooklyn and are vital to our community’s health and well-being. We are so pleased to be hosting The Last Stand, and drawing attention to the importance of trees to our environment and future.”

The Last Stand chronicles the lifespan of a 300-year-old Northern Red Oak—the “Mother Tree”—from the years 1750–2050. The rich soundscape tells the story of the Mother Tree in Black Rock Forest, a nearly 4,000-acre diverse ecosystem in upstate New York with tree species tracing back 14,000 years. Sankaram personally created field recordings of the environment to develop sounds for the installation, which will be experienced through rhythms, looped sounds, and the physical vibrations they generate.

“In the wake of this year’s catastrophic heat, storms, and floods, the immediacy of the climate emergency has only become clearer. We can no longer hold ourselves separate from the world around us. Rather, to stave off the most devastating effects of climate change, we must recognize the interconnectedness of humankind with our delicate world and all the living beings that inhabit it. It is my hope that by allowing ourselves to try and step inside the perspective of a tree, to experience its different intelligence and sense of time, we can rekindle this sense of connection,” said Kamala Sankaram. 

Over the course of 10 hours, the opera spans the Mother Tree’s life from acorn to its “last stand,” the final burst of life-giving energy a tree gives to its vast forest life network before it dies. Trees and visitors will experience sounds native to the natural environment, including animal and tree canopy noises, as well as sounds that mimic moments of life-altering tragedy, including invasions from non-native insects to human-induced threats such as excess rain, logging, and fire. Finally, the narrative carries the audience into the future with sounds that hint at the catastrophic effects of climate change, calling attention to the symbiotic and sometimes negative relationships within ecosystems.

The Last Stand is the winner of Creative Time’s 2021 Emerging Artist Open Call, which offers the opportunity for an artist to create their first-ever public artwork. Lead Project Support for The Last Stand is generously provided by Costa Brazil.

Learn more about The Last Stand, on view in Prospect Park from September 18–October 10, 2021.

Jamel Shabazz

Jamel Shabazz: Prospect Park, My Brooklyn Oasis

June 17, 2021

In celebration of the start of restoration of Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park, Prospect Park Alliance is proud to partner with Photoville to present a site-specific photo exhibition celebrating the work of legendary photographer Jamel Shabazz: Prospect Park: My Oasis in Brooklyn. Opening in timing with Juneteenth, the exhibit will bring the work of Shabazz to the Brooklyn community. The photographer, whose work is housed within the permanent collections of The Whitney Museum, The Studio Museum in Harlem, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, is best known for his iconic photographs of New York City in the 1980s.

Jamel Shabazz, Best Friends, 2006
Best Friends, Jamel Shabazz, 2006.

“At the early stage of my photographic development, I wanted to improve my skills as a photographer, and Prospect Park with its five hundred and eighty-five acres, became the ideal place for me to practice” Shabazz says. Forty-one years and thousands of Prospect Park photos later, Shabazz has captured reunion picnics, musicians, races, dog walks, and so much more in the beloved park he calls his “oasis in Brooklyn.” Exhibited along the construction fence surrounding Lefferts Historic House, the community of Brooklyn will be able to discover new stories and recognize old friends in Shabazz’s work.

“I have photographed a number of locations during my career as a photographer, but I can honestly say that my work centered on Prospect Park is both my largest and one of my very favorite series” says Shabazz.

The Art of Love, Jamel Shabazz, 1988
The Art of Love, Jamel Shabazz, 1988.

Prospect Park: My Oasis in Brooklyn will be on display outside Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park through Spring 2022.

Header Image: We Are One, Jamel Shabazz, 1998

Andrea Pippins

Celebrate Caribbean-American Heritage in Prospect Park

May 19, 2021

Celebrate National Caribbean-American Heritage Month in Prospect Park with caribBEINGJouvayfest Collective, and Prospect Park Alliance. Brooklyn’s Backyard will be home to a month of workshops, live music, culinary arts and other special events. Enjoy Caribbean music, dance, food, wellness and much more during this cultural celebration for Brooklynites of all ages. All participating artists and practitioners are based in Little Caribbean NYC, and hail from Haiti, Trinidad, Panama and Puerto Rico. Also, enjoy a guide to the neighborhood of Little Caribbean from Shelley Worrell, founder of caribBEING.

Wellness Afternoon: Marlon Jude + Third Root
Sunday, June 6, 1-4pm

Boathouse, Free
Learn to utilize the park to improve your fitness and wellness regimens. Pop-up wellness stations will be hosted by Flatbush-based performance coach, Marlon Jude and community health center, Third Root. In these guided workshops participants will be guided through body-weight workouts, yoga, meditation and sound healing. (Mats are not required for this workshop. If you’d like to use one, please bring your own).

Cooking: Peppa’s + Allan’s Bakery
Sunday, June 13, 1-4pm
Breeze Hill/Lincoln Rd BBQ Grills, Free

Learn safe grilling practices whilst exploring culinary traditions of Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean with a demonstration and tasting led by Flatbush’s Peppa’s, in addition to freshly baked goods from Allan’s Bakery, a third-generation family institution. Food and beverage will be first come first serve, while supplies last.

Long Live Our Flag Bearers Workshop
Sunday, June 13, 2-5pm
Boathouse, Suggested Donation – $10

In this workshop, JOUVAYFEST COLLECTIVE and BUSH WO/MAN Conversations Project with Prospect Park Alliance commemorates the Flag Bearers of the past and present with interviews, historical video and live demonstrations. Long Live Our Flag Bearers workshop hopes to encourage the younger generations in maintaining this cultural art form and have fun in the process.
 
Music: Paul Beauburn + Zing Experience
Sunday, June 20, 5-9pm
Boathouse, Free

Groove to the healing music of Paul Beaubrun scion of Haitian musical royalty and son of the Grammy nominated band Boukman Eksperyans. Inspired by his heritage, constantly aware of his roots, the struggle of an immigrant and the drive of New York life, Paul & Zing Experience forged a path where music, artistry and history meet.

Music: Steel Pan Day
Sunday, June 27, 1-3pm
Boathouse, Free

Did you know Brooklyn has its very own Steel Pan Day? Proclaimed by Borough President Eric Adams at Brooklyn Museum in June 2015— come celebrate the only instrument invented in the 20th century alongside local performance groups including Zane Rodolfo’s pan-jazz trio and Hearts of Steel.

These events are first come, first served—no registration required.

caribBEING is supported by Con Edison, Affinity Health Plan, Kings Theatre, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, CAMBA, and New York State Council for the Arts.

An Interview with Artist Oasa DuVerney

February 25, 2021

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 through May 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. 

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. We spoke with DuVerney about this installation in Prospect Park and about Black History Month. 

PPA: Why is it meaningful to have your work—and this quote by Lucille Clifton—on display in Prospect Park?

ODV: I think it’s really important to remember to celebrate what may seem to some people like small victories but in fact are major triumphs when the whole of society is okay with you dying and complicit with your suffering. Lucille Clifton is a master of words, clear and to the point about the experiences of Black women.

PPA: Who are your biggest influences?

ODV: My biggest influences would Dick Gregory, my Kindergarten and 5th Grade teachers respectively Lavern Nimmons and Pam White from PS 127 in East Elmhurst Queens, and my kids Nzinga and Stokely. They are so full of life and wisdom and see and experience the world so different from me sometimes. As their parent it makes me want to try and mold them but what I’ve realized over the years is that they are also shaping me and who I am. 

PPA: What does a Black History Month mean to you?

ODV: Black History month means to me that y’all really did pick the shortest month with an option to opt out of celebrating or even acknowledging the contributions of Black people and culture in American society. 

PPA: What are your artistic goals for the future? 

ODV: More fence weavings, and more art making in the streets for the people.

PPA: What are your hopes for our community?

ODV: My hope for our community is the complete stop to the criminalization of Black and Brown people, a Universal Basic Income, a Universal Healthcare that leads to universal healing, and more public spaces to practice community with our neighbors.

View Inspired By “What Is Left,” at the Prospect Park Bandshell, on view through May 3, 2021.