Lincoln Center’s Geffen Hall Renovation Will Open With Massive Public Art by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Statterwhite

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts announced today its collaboration with the Studio Museum in Harlem and Public Art Fund, all in New York, to commission new site-specific artworks by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite. The pieces will inaugurate the opening of Lincoln Center’s new David Geffen Hall in October.

Lincoln Center is a roughly 16-acre complex that is home to internationally renowned performing arts organizations including the New York Philharmonic (at David Geffen Hall), the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Ballet, and the Juilliard School of Music. Lincoln Center, as we know it today, was developed as part of an urban renewal project led by Robert Moses in the 1950s.

“The reimagination of David Geffen Hall ranks among the most highly visible and important cultural building projects in New York, and demands a visual art presence equal in spirit and power to the music of the New York Philharmonic itself,” said Thelma Golden, director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, in a release.

Nina Chanel Abney, who is known for her large colorful paintings that address topics of race, gender, and politics, plans to transform the building’s nearly 200-foot façade along 65th Street in her distinct bold style. Abney will draw on the cultural heritage of what was previously San Juan Hill, a neighborhood now occupied by Lincoln Center that was comprised of African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Puerto Rican residences—and, namely, was one of the largest African-American communities in New York before World War I. The neighborhood was erased as part of an urban renewal project in the late 1940s (later developed in the 1950s) that displaced thousands of residents. In a nod to this history, Abney will create portraits of notable San Juan Hill residents, as well as scenes drawn from the community’s daily life.

Jacolby Statterwhite will create a new video for a 50-foot media wall in the building’s lobby. Known for his ethereal digital animations, Satterwhite plans to showcase the work of more than one hundred music and dance students from local schools such as the Ailey School, the Juilliard School, and Professional Performing Arts School. Filmed against a green screen, Satterwhite combines this new experimental footage with Lincoln Center’s archival videos.

“Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite are both remarkable innovators, reinventing the visual languages of our time. They are visionaries of history, excavating erased or forgotten narratives in order to create new images and experiences,” artistic and executive director of Public Art Fund Nicholas Baume remarked in a release. “Acknowledging the past and embracing the future, their works promise to give all of us a richer, deeper sense of our culture, our city, and ourselves.”

The artworks by Abney and Satterwhite will be the first in a rotating series of public commissions at David Geffen Hall.

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