Black history expressionist statue appears in Times Square amid Chauvin’s conviction


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A Ghanaian artist took to Times Square on June 25 to share his take on the experience of black people amid racial tensions as the nation braced for the conviction of Derek Chauvin, the notorious former Minneapolis police officer guilty of the murder of George Floyd.

Tourists and newly returned locals were stopped Friday by a towering ebony statue depicting what artist Kwame Akoto-Bamfo sees as the foundation and struggle of black history.

According to the sculptor, this ephemeral exhibit explores the glorification of the white supremacy of Civil War monuments. Akoto-Bamfo takes the traditional image of a Confederate soldier on horseback leading a charge, depicted on many such monuments, and reinvents it to reflect the African-American experience before, during and after the Civil War.

Illuminated by the row of gigantic screens that line the heart of the city, murmurs gathered around Akoto-Bamfo’s artwork named Blank Slate Monument, discussing the poignant character of the room in the middle of the condemnation of Chauvin, with many Black Lives in America.

A judge ultimately sentenced Chauvin to serve 22 and a half years behind bars for Floyd’s murder.

Kwame Akoto-Bamfo’s work details the experience of blacks before, during and after the civil war. Photo by Dean Moses

The statue represents the steps to freedom, which begins with a kneeling slave at the base, and although his hands are tied, his body supports a Black Union martyr holding the American flag with a noose around his neck .

Atop the totem pole roars a mother, protesting for liberation while holding up a picket sign that viewers can text from their cellphones, creating an ever-changing sentiment, expressed by those who see it by expanding it from there. ‘a simple visual. show at an interactive demonstration.

Akoto-Bamfo said this represents the contemporary struggle for freedom, equality and a better future for the mother’s child.

“It means everything to me to have this here today. This is most important only for people who can see and George’s lovers [Floyd] and people who passively observed through social media are able to express their feelings through the article as you can see we have all kinds of people using all kinds of languages ​​to be able to express their experience and grief for what happened to Brother George Floyd, ”Akoto-Bamfo told amNewYork Metro.

Kwame Akoto-Bamfo describes his sculpture as a reflection of the steps towards the liberation of black Americans. Photo by Dean Moses

The sculpture lasted a year and was originally designed for touring in the United States after its finalization in 2019; However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tour was only able to start recently.

“Now we are able to tour, contribute and have a dialogue with people through the works of art. It’s really a question of interaction because I want the people who live the experience to have the possibility to express themselves and not for me, as an artist, to explain the symbolism of the piece ”, Akoto-Bamfo said, watching passers-by contemplate his work.

Akoto-Bamfo applied for a permit to show the piece in Times Square until last Friday evening; he hopes to be able to hold it in other locations around New York before he returns to Ghana.

Although no date has been set, Akoto-Bamfo has announced that the sculpture will be on display in Washington DC, Selma and Birmingham, Alabama, and more. Akoto-Bamfo traces the heritage and history of Africa for 11 years with his work. He created over a thousand portraits in commemoration of enslaved African ancestors. His work covers the transatlantic slave trade and the legacy and consequences of slavery.

Virgin slate monument by Kwame Akoto-Bamfo. Photo by Dean Moses

“I believe the African-American experience fuels this narrative. It is my wish that not only do I talk about it, but that I can play a small role, no matter how small, in improving the African American experience, ”Akoto-Bamfo said.

Mellisa Mahadeo, a pedestrian who stumbled upon the statue, was instantly struck by its symbolism, encouraging her to stop dead and fully observe the room.

Over the past year, Mahadeo has been following the Black Lives Matter movement, and she believes this statue is a perfect representation of the struggles black Americans have faced throughout history and in today’s climate.

Passers-by stop dead to observe the poignant monument. Photo by Dean Moses

“I have never seen a monument like this before. The overall picture looked familiar, but there is something a little more meaningful here. I love it. I think this is an accurate representation of historical information that was not taught to us in school. I think it’s very important for people to see it now, especially in the world we live in, ”Mahadeo said.

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