Nina Chanel Abney: San Juan Heal

 

Nina Chanel Abney’s monumental work of art for the façade of David Geffen Hall pays homage to San Juan Hill. In the 1940s and '50s, this diverse, working-class neighborhood—home to some of the largest Black and Puerto Rican populations in New York City in the first half of the twentieth century—was forcibly displaced to make way for redevelopment, including what would become Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Abney’s constellation of figures, words, shapes, and symbols reflects the thriving community that lived here. Featured figures include pioneering health care workers Edith Carter and Elizabeth Tyler. Also pictured are James P. Johnson, whose music gave rise to the Charleston dance craze, and Thelonious Monk, a pioneer of Bebop and longtime resident of the neighborhood’s Phipps Houses. Reclaiming this important history in her bold and vibrant style, Abney aims to spark curiosity and inspire a more inclusive future.