Monuments as: History / Art / Power

JUN 13, 2018 | 6:00 PM TO 8:00 PM

The J. Marion Sims monument



The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016


1218: Segal Theatre


June 13, 2018: 6:00 PM-8:00 PM




American Social History Project / Center for Media and Learning


This panel will offer an overview of the ongoing re-evaluation of public monuments and memorials across the country and in New York City. The current New York City Commission to review controversial monuments will be placed within a broad perspective of changing approaches to and styles in public art. The panel will then present a case study of the J. Marion Sims monument on Fifth Avenue and 104th Street, examining how we can understand Sims’s medical research and experimentation on enslaved women, the East Harlem community response to his current memorialization, and future possibilities for remembering this difficult history. Community organizers and artists working in the East Harlem community will engage with the audience to explore the role of performative protests to educate and inspire dialog about difficult chapters in U.S. history and the role of public art.

  • Harriet Senie, Professor of Art History, Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Deirdre Cooper Owens, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College, CUNY
  • Marina Ortiz, Founder and President, East Harlem Preservation 
  • Francheska Alcantara, Community-based artist

This is the first program in the series Difficult Histories/Public Spaces: The Challenge of Monuments in New York City and the Nation, sponsored by the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, The Gotham Center for New York City History, and the CUNY Public History Collective/Center for the Humanities.