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Volume XXVIII, Number 5791
Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013

Arsenal Gallery Celebrates Black History Month With Exhibition Of African-American Monuments In Parks

Soul  in Flight;
Soul in Flight;
Photo by Francis Dzikowski

On this date twenty years ago, tennis legend and humanitarian Arthur Ashe died prematurely, having contracted the AIDS virus through a blood transfusion. A monumental sculpture, Soul in Flight by Eric Fischl, and a tennis stadium at the United States Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park honors his legacy as an athlete and in the fight for social justice and human rights.

This month the Arsenal Gallery celebrates Black History Month with an exhibition dedicated to the Arthur Ashe Soul in Flight memorial, as well as other major monuments and statuary in our parks honoring iconic African-Americans. They honor key figures in the arts, sports, the military, scientific exploration, and the abolition movement who contributed to the advancement of this nation. Also remembered are the many thousands of anonymous people who did not have the rights of citizenship and were enslaved.

Visitors to the exhibition will learn the back story of these statuary projects, and about the subjects they honor and the artists who created them. Large-scale photos of the principal monuments to Ralph Ellison, Arthur Ashe, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Jackie Robinson, Ronald McNair, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, and Duke Ellington are complemented by detailed views of these monuments and their dedication ceremonies, as well as related ephemera such as dedication programs.

A section of the show is dedicated to the Triumph of the Human Spirit, the monument at Foley Square that marks the site of the African American Burial Ground. Attention is also paid to the 369th Regiment Memorial, that commemorates the famous “Harlem Hellcats” who distinguished themselves in World War I, when the armed services remained segregated.

The exhibition is organized and mounted by Jonathan Kuhn, Parks’ Director of Art & Antiquities and Jennifer Lantzas, Parks Public Art Coordinator. The curators wish to acknowledge the assistance of Park photographers Malcolm Pinckney and Daniel Avila; Sheena Brown, Deputy Director of Art & Antiquities; artists Alison Saar and Gabriel Koren; and photographers Francis Dzikowski, Sara Cedar Miller and Jake Rajs for providing additional images.

The exhibition is on view through Wednesday, February 27. The Arsenal Gallery is located in Central Park at East 64th Street and Fifth Avenue on the third floor of the Arsenal Building. The exhibit is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except Presidents Day, and admission is free.


“From what we get we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”

Arthur Ashe
(1943 – 1993)

Quotation is inscribed on the Soul in Flight Arthur Ashe Memorial
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