This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Jasmine Wahi’s On Visibility was part of first iteration of BAM’s “Let Freedom Ring” project (photo © Terrence Jennings 2020)

BAM sign screen
Flatbush Ave. at Lafayette Ave.
February 12-15, free

Last month, as part of its thirty-fifth annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., BAM hosted “Let Freedom Ring,” a weeklong public art display on its sign screen at the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette Aves., featuring visual meditations on what freedom means by Derrick Adams, Alvin Armstrong, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn, Lizania Cruz, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Hank Willis Thomas, and Jasmine Wahi. Armstrong’s We Don’t Die We Multiply depicted two silhouetted bare-chested men bumping bodies. Adams offered MLK’s Tropic Interlude. Thomas asked, “Who Taught You to Love_?” Wahi’s On Visibility posits, “Do you see me for who I am or what you think I am” over an image of two large eyes. And Barrayn expllored beauty in Self-Portrait (Extension of a Woman) and Water Spirit (March on Washington 2020). The second iteration of “Let Freedom Ring” takes place February 12-15, with electronic billboard contributions from Jordan Casteel, Kevin Claiborne, Amy Sherald, Deborah Roberts, Cruz, Barrayn, and Wahi.

In a statement, BAM curator-at-large Larry Ossei-Mensah said, “After the first project’s success, I felt it necessary to continue the conversation and reflect on freedom as the nation observes Presidents Day and celebrates Black History Month. Working on ‘Let Freedom Ring’ has been a cathartic experience growing from a desire to ponder and imagine what freedom could look like in 2021 and beyond. It’s imperative that we share this thought-provoking work with the public and not relegate it to just a gallery exhibition. These are fundamental questions and concerns we all share as Americans, as human beings.” Commenting on the participants, he noted, “Naturally, as a curator, I look to artists who create work that inspires hope, proposes deep philosophical questions, and reminds us of our humanity for guidance on what is possible. I’m honored that these seven artists accepted my invitation and responded in a variety of ways. I was thrilled to see each artists’ perspective on freedom — from self-reflection, joy, and a reintroduction to Dr. King’s fight for economic justice with the Freedom Budget document.” BAM is one of the institutions I am missing the most during this pandemic lockdown, but this is a little taste of the kind of work it has been doing for decades.

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