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Competition for Marsha P. Johnson-Sylvia Rivera Monument Announced

LGBTQ artists encouraged to apply to create Village tribute to early pioneers

Renderings of the monument dedicated to Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera are seen at the LGBT Center in May. Artists have until October 1 to apply for the right to create the monument.
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Three months after the city announced plans to erect a monument dedicated to LGBTQ icons Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson, the search is on for artists to turn the project into a reality — and queer applicants are encouraged to apply.

The city is undergoing a rigorous, multi-step process in pursuit of artists or a team of artists interested in creating the monument, which will reside at Ruth Wittenberg Triangle at 421 Sixth Avenue at Christopher Street and Greenwich Avenue and will honor two trailblazers in the fight for queer rights during the decades following the Stonewall Uprising. The monuments are being erected as part of the She Built NYC campaign to create monuments honoring women’s history in the five boroughs.

Artists seeking to create the monument will face a tall task in depicting a pair of icons who have achieved a prominent place in queer history. Johnson and Rivera were active with both the Gay Activists Alliance and the Gay Liberation Front, two early post-Stonewall groups, and they also worked to empower LGBTQ youth. They launched the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), an organization that, in its original form, lasted only for a short time but offered shelter for homeless queer youth. The consensus among researchers is that Johnson was among the first to fight back against the NYPD raid of the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969.

Those who would like to submit an application must do so by an October 1 deadline, according to the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which is leading the effort to find artists.

In the first part of the application process, the city asks artists to provide examples of past work to be reviewed by the city and an advisory committee of outside arts and design professionals. There is no fee to apply, but the applications must be submitted online via nyculture.submittable.com/submit.

As part of the first phase, applicants must provide a “statement of interest” explaining why they are applying, outlining their qualifications for the project, previewing their approach to the work, and conveying how their style of art makes sense for the project. Separately, artists are to submit an “artist’s statement” describing their past and current work along with samples of their work. Neither of the two statements should exceed 250 words.

Artists are also asked to submit a résumé detailing their artist work, teaching experience, and community work. Any relevant public or private commissioning experience should be included on the résumé. Those who are submitting applications as a team should attach a two-page document explaining the qualifications of each team member.

Each artist must also submit two professional references. Artists must have previous experience working with the people listed as references.

Finally, applicants should provide work sample images, and relevant videos, such as a kinetic sculpture or one including a sound element, can be submitted via a PDF with a link to the video. A list of submitted work should explain materials, dimensions, locations, and/ or run time, as well as one-to-two sentence descriptions.

During the second phase, finalists will be invited to submit conceptual proposals to be reviewed by the committee. Finalists, according to the city, will get an honorarium of $1,500 for submitting their proposals. The final projects will be judged by appropriateness, skilled craftsmanship, clarity of artistic vision, cost of materials, and whether the submission is “true to his/ her/ their sensibility.”

Those with questions about the application process should contact Percent@culture.nyc.gov.

Updated 12:40 pm, September 6, 2019
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