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Designing Abolitionist Place, New York City

Hargreaves Jones, A digital rendering of Abolitionist Place, 2022.

Courtesy of The New York Times.

At the corner of 227 Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn, Abolitionist Place received landmark status yet also evoked conflict over what kind of art would decorate the space for all to see. The city's plan is to commission a design for the space by artist, educator, and activist Kameelah Janan Rasheed. However, local activists preferred figurative representation of abolitionists, such as Ida B. Wells and Sarah J. Garnet, and argued that the current plans for the project are too abstract. Rasheed's vision for the work remains collaborative in nature, yet those who are opposed feel the Public Design Commission has thwarted their longstanding efforts to erect a statue on the grounds. The artist responds frequently to public commentary regarding the Abolitionist Place project titled In Pursuit of Freedom, and invites everyone to share their ideas on her official website.

"No, art doesn’t change people. People see art. They engage with it. And there may be a series of actions that result from that engagement." - Kameelah Janan Rasheed for Art in America, 2021.
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