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Karyn Olivier
The Battle is Joined, 2017
Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA
Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts
video documentation with audio recording of Trapeta B. Mayson’s poem Monuments to Brown Boys commissioned for public art installation
1:46 min.
Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017. Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

Marking Monuments

January 22 – March 6, 2021
USF Contemporary Art Museum Lee and Victor Leavengood Gallery + Online

Marking Monuments is curated by Sarah Howard, USF Curator of Public Art and Social Practice; and organized by the USF Contemporary Art Museum. 

CAM Galleries Will Be Open for USF Faculty, Staff, and Students - Reservations Required 

<Download Press Release

 

ONLINE EXHIBITION

Exhibition Home   //   Essay by Sarah Howard   //   Foreword + Acknowledgements
Ariel René Jackson   //   Joiri Minaya   //   Karyn Olivier in collaboration with Trapeta B. Mayson   //   John Sims   //   Monument Lab

 

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017. Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts. video documentation with audio recording of Trapeta B. Mayson’s poem Monuments to Brown Boys commissioned for public art installation. 1:46 min. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery.

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017. Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts. video documentation with audio recording of Trapeta B. Mayson’s poem Monuments to Brown Boys commissioned for public art installation. 1:46 min. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Installation View of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Photo: Will Lytch.

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017. Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts. Video documentation with audio recording of Trapeta B. Mayson’s poem Monuments to Brown Boys commissioned for public art installation. 1:46 min. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Installation view of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Photo: Will Lytch.

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017. Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts. video documentation with audio recording of Trapeta B. Mayson’s poem Monuments to Brown Boys commissioned for public art installation. 1:46 min. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Installation View of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Photo: Will Lytch.

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017. Vernon Park, Philadelphia PA. Commissioned by Monument Lab and Mural Arts. Video documentation with audio recording of Trapeta B. Mayson’s poem Monuments to Brown Boys commissioned for public art installation. 1:46 min. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Installation view of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Photo: Will Lytch.

Installation View of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Left: John Sims. Right: Karyn Olivier. Photo: Will Lytch.

Installation view of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Left: John Sims. Right: Karyn Olivier. Photo: Will Lytch.

Installation view of Marking Monuments installed at USFCAM. Photo: Will Lytch.

Installation view of Marking Monuments exhibition at USF Contemporary Art Museum. Photo: Will Lytch.

Karyn Olivier, The Battle is Joined, 2017

Looking to the past to reflect the present, Olivier transformed a 20-foot-high battle memorial into a mirror clad monument honoring the local community. Intertwining the histories of two monuments in Philadelphia’s Vernon Park, Olivier encased the Revolutionary War Battle of Germantown Memorial (1903) in mirrors, an action that recalls the concealment during both World War I and II of a monument to German settler Francis Daniel Pastorius who led the first Quaker protest against slavery in 1688. Effectively rendering the existing monument invisible, the reflective surface captures, depicts, and magnifies the presence of surrounding residents, their landscape, and activities to honor and spotlight the Germantown neighborhood, historically a German immigrant area that has evolved into a predominantly African American neighborhood.

More information on Karyn Olivier’s The Battle is Joined

 

Monuments to Brown Boys

After Karyn Olivier’s installation of The Battle Is Joined, a mirrored remixing of the Battle of Germantown Memorial in Vernon Park, Germantown, Philadelphia 

The artist installed a mirror over the monument and the people have come to gawk.
Rubberneckers wonder what was there before.
You have come too, laying in the cut;
statue still for seconds, your reflection edging off
a 20 foot high bronze looking glass.
You are an alluring hunk of stone - beguiling me;
yes you, brown boy
rough cut, monolith.
I see you.
You are a low slung jean wearing,
grandmother greeting pillar,
an obelisk, marking the entrance of your hood.
You need to be somebody’s memorial -
and not only when you laid out and lowered in the dirt;
a cold slab your foot stone,
your pillow, a marble headrest of past tense - he was, he once, he lived.
No, you are now and present, alive and in color
and you need to be somebody’s walking shrine,
somebody’s testament, somebody’s tribute in this city.
You have to be carved stretched and erect–
a column to buttress boogiemen;
the phantoms they say you imagine,
the specters and goblins who tow bullets
and policies and laws that encase you.
You need to be somebody’s memento.
Look how you beaming off that seeing glass.
I’m catching your shine.
Look at that swagger you carrying - hoodie wearing,
fresh fade having,
full teeth grinning.
You need to be somebody’s something to fight for,
somebody’s celebration,
somebody stone turned monument -
carved and smoothed,
somebody’s masterpiece in this city. 

Trapeta B. Mayson, 2020-2021 Philadelphia Poet Laureate  

 

About Karyn Olivier

Karyn Olivier (b. 1968) is a Philadelphia-based artist and educator who creates public art, sculpture, and installations that expose social, political, and economic contradictions, and the residue of slavery in contemporary culture. Olivier has created large-scale commissioned work for Monument Lab, Creative Time, and New York City and Philadelphia’s Percent for Art programs. She has exhibited at the Gwangju and Busan Biennials (South Korea); World Festival of Black Arts and Culture (Dakar, Senegal); The Studio Museum in Harlem; The Whitney Museum of Art (NYC) ; MoMA PS1 (Queens, NY); and The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, among others. Olivier received the 2018-19 Rome Prize and has been the recipient of the Anonymous Was A Woman Award, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award, and the New York Foundation for the Arts Award, among many others. Olivier is an associate professor of sculpture at Tyler School of Art and Architecture at Temple University (Philadelphia, PA).

 

About Trapeta B. Mayson

Trapeta B. Mayson (b. 1967) is a Liberian-born poet, teacher and licensed social worker. The City of Philadelphia 2020-2021 Poet Laureate, Mayson’s work shines light on and honors the immigrant experience and amplifies the experience of community life as a catalyst to mobilize, build and create social transformation. Mayson has received a Pew Fellowship in Literature, a Leeway Transformation Award, a Leeway Art and Change Grant, and a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant. She is a Cave Canem and Callaloo Fellow and a 2019 Aspen Words Emerging Writer’s Fellow with the Aspen Institute. Mayson is an author and her works have been published in The American Poetry Review, Epiphany Literary Journal, Aesthetica Magazine, and Margie: The American Journal of Poetry, among others.

 

 

Marking Monuments is made possible by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Stanton Storer Embrace the Arts Foundation, IRA Initiatives for Social Justice Fund, USFCAM Art for Community Engagement (ACE) Fund, the Lee and Victor Leavengood Endowment, and the Florida Department of State.