SHE BUILT NYC: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. OPEN CALL FOR ARTISTS
The City of New York seeks artists interested in creating a public monument that honors Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. If you are such an artist, please APPLY to this open call.
On June 20, 2018 First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and the Department of Cultural Affairs announced She Built NYC, a new effort to commission a public monument or artwork that honors women’s history in New York City. The effort kicked off with an open call for nominations from the public. Through women.nyc, members of the public submitted nearly 2,000 nominations of women, groups of women, and events in women’s history that significantly impacted New York City. To qualify, events must have happened at least 20 years ago; nominated individuals must be known for an event, movement, or action that took place at least 20 years ago, and must no longer be living.
As a result of this process, She Built NYC is commissioning public art works to honor seven trailblazing women whose extraordinary contributions forever changed New York City. With the memorial to Shirley Chisholm in Brooklyn well underway addition memorials of Billie Holiday, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Dr. Helen Rodriguez Trías, Katherine Walker and now Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera will be installed throughout the city’s five boroughs. They are the result of She Built NYC, a campaign launched to honor women who have shaped New York City while addressing the absence of female monuments honoring women in our public spaces.
The monument will be the first permanent public art work honoring the legacy of trans individuals.
Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera founded STAR, a housing and support organization for homeless LGBTQ youth and sex workers; they were also leaders in the Stonewall Uprisings and lifelong advocates for LGBTQ rights, particularly around racial and economic justice for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness and poverty. In addition to Johnson’s and Rivera’s work and advocacy for LGBTQ, homeless, and HIV positive youth - and particularly young people of color who were marginalized by broader LGBTQ rights efforts in “Gay Liberation” - they were also pioneers in early efforts to further disability justice efforts, particularly around ensuring meaningful access to affirming healthcare for all people.
She Built NYC builds on the recommendations of the Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers to expand the stories, histories, and narratives currently represented on public property in New York. These representations have historically failed to reflect the trailblazing women and non-binary individuals that have contributed to the City. Mayor Bill de Blasio, through the Department of Cultural Affairs, has committed up to $10 million over the next four years to commissioning new permanent public monuments and commemorations.
SHE BUILT NYC BIOS
Marsha P. Johnson (1945-1992)
Was an activist whose involvement in the Stonewall Riots helped pave the way toward trans acceptance. Born in Elizabeth, NJ, Johnson moved to New York City after high school with just $15 and a bag of clothes. Though she struggled with homelessness, Johnson devoted her life to advocating for gay and transgender street youth, sex workers and people in prison.
Following Stonewall, she and Rivera co-founded STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries), the first shelter for LGBTQ youth in North America. Towering in red plastic heels and outré floral wigs, Johnson performed with the drag group Hot Peaches and caught the eye of Andy Warhol, who photographed her. Her body was found in the Hudson River on July 6, 1992. While the cause of her death remains unsolved, Johnson’s legacy as an advocate for social, economic and racial justice has grown in recent years.
Sylvia Rivera (1951-2002)
Her radical advocacy reflected her bold and unrepentant response to challenges in her own life. Abandoned by her father at birth in 1951 and orphaned when her mother committed suicide at 3, Rivera was raised by her Venezuelan grandmother in NYC. The arrangement didn’t last long: criticism of her gender-defying ways prompted Rivera to run away at 11. Living on the streets, she survived by working as a child prostitute before a community of drag queens took her under their wing.
Yet it was her friendship with Johnson, whom she met in 1963, that was one of her most important and enduring relationships. Deeply disappointed by activists who sought to distance the gay-rights movement from drag culture and trans individuals, Rivera resurrected STAR in 2001 to fight for NYC’s Transgender Rights Bill and the inclusion of transgender protections in New York State’s Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. She died of complications from liver cancer on February 19, 2002.
REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS (RFQ)
An advisory panel comprised of individuals representing a broad range of expertise and backgrounds will assess the nearly 2,000 public nominations and create a shortlist of up to five finalists for commemoration. This Request for Qualifications (RFQ) is to solicit artists or artist teams who are interested in being considered to design a permanent public monument to the selected woman, group of women, or event in women’s history that significantly impacted New York City. The City will match the selected woman, group of women, or event from the shortlist to one public site, and the artist chosen to design a monument will be determined through the City’s Percent for Art commissioning process.
The estimated project budget for this monument is $750k and must include all project costs, including but not limited to the following: artist’s fees, design services, community engagement, site preparation, engineering, fabrication, travel, transportation of the work to the site, insurance, permits, installation, documentation of the artwork, and contingency.
WHO MAY APPLY
Professional visual artists or artist teams, working in any and all media, legally authorized to work in the U.S., and who are at least 18 years of age, are eligible to apply. Employees of the City of New York, Committee members (as defined in the following section) and their family members are not eligible to apply. If applying as an artist team, please identify the team member who will serve as the lead artist.
By applying, artists or artist teams could be considered for any of the upcoming 4 new memorials.
SUBMISSION AND SELECTION PROCESS
Each selection process is organized into two phases:
Phase One is the RFQ in which artists or artist teams may respond with samples of past work and supplementary materials to be considered for the She Built NYC commission. The City, in partnership with an advisory committee of outside arts and design professionals (the “Committee”), will select artists to proceed to Phase Two of the open call (the “Finalists”).
Phase Two is a Request for Conceptual Designs in which Finalists will submit a conceptual design for final review by the Committee. Finalists will receive a $1,500 honorarium for completion of a conceptual design in response to the Request for Conceptual Designs. One artist will be selected by the Committee from Phase Two to finalize designs, fabricate and install the artwork in partnership with the City (the “Selected Artist”).
Phase One: Request for Qualifications
As part of Phase One, the City invites artists or artist teams to submit examples of past work for the Committee to review. Eligibility is based upon artistic merit as evidenced in previous work, though the artist or artist team need not have completed a prior permanent public commission.
There is no submission fee. Submissions must be made online through https://nyculture.submittable.com/submit.
Artists must submit all of the following materials for consideration:
· Statement of Interest (250 words max)
Provide a narrative description of your interest in the commission and your qualifications for undertaking such a project; how your art practice and process can be translated to this project and how you might approach this project. If you are applying as an artist team, your statement of interest should reflect the work and approach of the team.
· Artist’s Statement (250 words max)
Provide a narrative description of your past work and current practice, including reference to submitted work samples, as relevant.
· Resume or CV (2 pages max)
Provide a current resume or CV, highlighting artistic excellence, any teaching experience, community engagement work, and/or experience working with multiple stakeholders. Be sure to include any relevant public or private commissioning experience. If you are applying as an artist team, combine your information into a two-page document that summarizes the team members’ qualifications. For example, a four-member team may choose to include a half-page bio for each team member.
Provide the name, phone number and email addresses of two (2) professional references that have experience working with you as a partner or client on a creative project. Please indicate your relationship to each reference.
· Work Samples
Provide 10 images of completed work. Images should be from 70 - 100 dpi. If you have video of your work that is relevant to this project (i.e. a kinetic sculpture or sound element), submit a PDF with a link to the video. Each video PDF link will count as one of your 10 images. Each video may be no longer than 3 minutes. If you are applying as an artist team, designate one artist to be the team leader to submit your information, along with team member(s) images and resume/bio(s). Submissions from artist teams should reflect samples from each artist on the team, and not exceed the overall submission limit of 10 images.
· Work Sample List
Provide a list of submitted work, including title, date, materials and dimensions, locations, and/or running times. Include 1-2 sentence descriptions as needed.
Phase Two: Request for Conceptual Designs
As part of Phase Two, the City will invite the selected Finalists to submit conceptual proposals for review by the Committee. Finalists will receive an honorarium of $1,500 for submission of a conceptual proposal regardless of the number of concepts submitted.
Percent for Art aspires to commission artwork of the highest caliber possible, and to set a national example for public art commissioning, while reflecting contemporary art practices. The conceptual proposals will be judged against the following criteria:
· Appropriateness of each artist’s approach to the site’s architecture, function, and users;
· Skilled craftsmanship;
· Clarity of artistic vision;
· Consideration of the cost and durability of the artist’s chosen materials; and
· That the artist’s public commission is true to his/her/their sensibility.
Please direct all inquiries regarding this open call to Percent@culture.nyc.gov.