Have you ever had that feeling when visiting an historic site, such as an old home or a cemetery, that you can sense, through the soles of your feet, the stories that are contained in the space? GOVERNORS ISLAND has that effect on me. It is having that effect on the artists who are showing in this summer’s Race and Revolution.
RACE AND REVOLUTION is a site-specific art show. Governors Island is the site because of its relationship to the American Revolution. (The above drawing is titled American Foot Soldiers, Yorktown Campaign, 1781, by Jean Baptise-Antoine DeVerger, from theAnne S.K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library.) It shows the diverse population that made up the American Continental Army)
Governors Island History – in a nutshell . . .
- The Lenape Indians, for centuries or millennia, referred to it as “Pagganuck” – Algonquin for Nut because of the nut trees growing there.
- The Dutch claimed it after they arrived in 1621, renaming it “Noyten Eylandt” (Nut Island)
- The British took it from the Dutch, in 1664 and used it to house British royalty and government officials.
- In 1775, the British were forced to leave New York – and Governors Island – until they could fortify troops with their naval fleet, which arrived in Sandy Hook, off the coast of Staten Island, in the summer of 1776. This time the Americans were forced to flee the island until the they won the war in 1783.
So how does an island inspire an art show? TALWST is measuring built-ins for what he is calling a “Cabinet of Curiosities”.
GILF! lit up when she thought about creating something using the stairs – there are seventeen of them – for what she is conceptualizing as history descending.
History speaks to people differently. But something happened to these artists when I brought them to Building 8A, Nolan Park, the specific site for Race and Revolution. They heard stories of centuries being spoken to them in the language of art. Together we will try to bring to light the stories of the African and Native Americans, who were also seeking independence from oppressors, just as the Americans wished for themselves.
You can help by making your contribution HERE.