September 30, 2022
  • September 30, 2022
  • Home
  • Sculptures
  • 350 sculptures invoke the first Africans reduced to slavery

350 sculptures invoke the first Africans reduced to slavery

By on July 4, 2021 0




SAN FRANCISCO – A recent Friday morning, Dana king crossed the Bay Bridge from his home in Oakland to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to check out “Monumental counting” 350 sculptures she created to represent the first Africans kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1619.

Steel sculptures with vinyl tubes surround the base of a plinth that once contained a statue of Francis Scott Key, the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” who owned slaves and was anti-abolitionist. On June 17, during a national debate on monuments following the murder of George Floyd by a police officer, people toppled the statue of Key. It was time for this to go, King said.

“It’s been there for over 140 years, resonating that same hate, that same energy,” she said. “So, I thought it was important to surround him.”

King’s work can be found right across the park’s music hall, which has just been redone. Ben Davis of Illuminate the Arts, who did the renovation, wanted to put the words “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (the name of what is called the black national anthem) above the lobby. He asked King, who is known for sculpting black bodies in bronze, if she wanted to make a statue of a champion of civil rights. James weldon johnson, the author of the song, and install it where the statue of the Key was. She said no.

Instead, she offered to cover the plinth with what she calls a “divinely feminine design.” But Ralph Remington, the director of cultural affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission, which set up a committee to examine the city’s monuments, said he didn’t want to do anything at the plinth until the committee has met. Thus, King proposed the current installation. Now, she says, she has 350 female energy statues, all of them subtly distinct – for example, the braids atop the statues were made by friends and buddies of friends who showed up to help.

Dana King, “Monumental Reckoning” at Golden Gate Park

“Everyone braided like they grew up braiding,” she said. “The cowards are mine. Some are triple braided. This is great – there are 350 of them and while there is some consistency, if you look closely they are all different.

Remington first saw the statues in King’s studio before they were unveiled at an event on June 17 this year, and he joined in the braiding, so he jokes that he has “minimal in-game skin”. He believes this iteration is even more powerful than what King originally offered.

“It’s a punch in the guts,” he said. “When you see it, you can’t help but shiver and you can’t help but feel the immensity of the act of the transatlantic slave trade. It leaves you speechless. “

Dana King at the unveiling of “Monumental Reckoning” at Golden Gate Park

Many viewers seem to agree. As King talked about her job, adjusting the flowers in the unveiling braids, several people recognized her (King was a news anchor at the local CBS station) and supplemented her on her work, calling her “hitting” , “moving” and “powerful”.

King says she is grateful for the city’s support and for the change in the way people think about memorials and public art.

“I have the impression that the monuments which exist and which were created to intimidate and hurt people, they must disappear,” she said. “They only tell part of the story, and it’s about representation in public space. It is vital. It is vital for every culture to be seen.

Weems’ essay is taken from Ways of hearing: reflections on music in 26 pieces.


Freelance writer Rona Akbari has teamed up with artist Aishwarya Srivastava to raise funds for the sale of prints to support Afghan nationals facing disease and famine.


Three art historians re-emphasize Kahlo’s artistic production.