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First artworks for Black open-air museum in Los Angeles given approval

View of Destination Crenshaw’s Sankofa Park with Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War statue in its planned location. Rendering by Perkins + Will. Courtesy of Destination Crenshaw

Seven artworks have been approved this week for the initial phase of Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3-mile-long, $100m open-air museum under development in south Los Angeles.

Artworks, by Kehinde Wiley, Charles Dickson, Melvin Edwards, Maren Hassinger, Artis Lane, Alison Saar and Brenna Youngblood, are expected to be installed by the end of next year on Crenshaw Boulevard, referred to as the heart of African American commerce in the city.

Destination Crenshaw is a reaction by the businesses and the wider community to a new light railway being built that it says would split the area in two.

At the heart of the project will be Sankofa Park, designed to become one of our community’s most utilised gathering places and the flagship of ten community spaces that provide rest, art and inspiration – where four of the sculptures will be situated.

Beautifully landscaped and designed

“Destination Crenshaw’s community spaces, places where we can sit and reflect, meet one-on-one or gather in groups, are going to be beautifully landscaped and designed,” said Jason Foster, president and chief operating officer of Destination Crenshaw, said.

Destination Crenshaw, a non-profit organisation, has received a mix of public and private funding. So far it has raised $61.5m including a $3m grant from the Getty Foundation and the Getty Conservation Institute will consult on the conservation of the public art.

Inner-city Black Community

“Make no mistake: the idea that an inner-city Black community should be safe, prosperous, rich with cultural assets, green with nature and aesthetically beautiful, remains almost unimaginable,” Foster added.

“If it weren’t, we wouldn’t have to struggle, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, city by city, coast to coast for equitable investment in Black communities. But equitable investment in Black communities is more than financial, it’s also showing what we have known all along. Black is beautiful. And if this is true, our communities should reflect this to be truly equitable spaces.”

The plan is to commission at least 100 sculptures, murals and other artworks by 2027, creating ‘the largest public art exhibition by Black artists in this country’.

About the author – Adrian Murphy

Adrian is the Editor of MuseumNext and has 20 years’ experience as a journalist, half of which has been writing for the cultural sector.

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