The Battle Is Joined, by Karyn Olivier

Vernon Park, 5800 Germantown Avenue
On display Sept 16 - Nov 19, 2017

For the city-wide public art exhibition Monument Lab, I stewarded the work of artists Karyn Olivier and Jamel Shabazz for their respective projects at the Germantown site. I oversaw partnerships, community engagement, fabrication, installation, and on-site public programs tied to both projects.

From Monument Lab:
Karyn Olivier’s The Battle Is Joined responds to the Battle of Germantown Memorial, a twenty-foot-high monument built in Vernon Park in 1903 and dedicated to a Revolutionary War skirmish between American and British troops in a former colonial settlement. Today, Germantown is a predominantly African American, working-class neighborhood in the city. Olivier built out an acrylic mirror encasement that covered the monument as a way to bring people closer to one another, to their surroundings, and to their living histories.

As Olivier states
My reinterpretation of the Battle of Germantown Memorial will ask the monument to serve as a conductor of sorts. It will transport, transmit, express, and literally reflect the landscape, people, and activities that surround it. We will be reminded that this memorial can be an instrument and we, too, are instruments—the keepers and protectors of the monument, and in that role, sometimes we become the very monument itself.

The Battle Is Joined also references another monument in Vernon Park, one designed by Albert Jaegers and dedicated to Francis Daniel Pastorius, a German settler who led a Quaker protest against slavery in 1688. The construction of Jaegers’s monument to Pastorius began in 1908, but during World War I, one of its sponsors, the United States War Department, boxed over the structure. During World War II, the statue was again boxed and removed from public view. Olivier’s enclosure extended this history, engaging the site of the park as a space

to question inherited symbols from the past and envision new modes of interpretation.

The Battle is Joined was recognized by the Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review as one of the top 50 outstanding public art projects from across the country in 2017.

Installation in progress:

More about Monument Lab