Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) and DUMBO Improvement District (Dumbo) today unveiled a public art sculpture by Shervone Neckles in partnership with Beam Center currently on view at Albee Square Plaza, Downtown Brooklyn through March 2022. One of the projects funded through the Downtown Brooklyn + Dumbo Art Fund, under New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), BEACON is a twelve-foot-tall steel, motion-activated LED sculpture inspired by inventor Lewis H. Latimer designed to activate the community through art.
Inspired by African American inventor Lewis H. Latimer’s 1880s patent drawings for the electric lamp and method for manufacturing carbon filament in incandescent bulbs, BEACON is being installed at Albee Square in celebration of Latimer’s 173rd birthday. Built by a team of Beam Center Fellows – a cohort of NYC youth who learn metal-working, welding, circuitry, cement/polymer casting, mold-making, and collaboration – the installation’s light stands as a symbol of self-expression, possibility, and community. BEACON engages the public in local history and commemorates Latimer’s legacy as a Black inventor and his contributions to society and the electrical engineering field.
“BEACON is a public artwork designed to illuminate its immediate surroundings with light based on one’s proximity and direct interaction with the structure,” said Shervone Neckles. “Metaphorically, it’s about illuminating truth, illuminating one’s existence, and illuminating the life and contributions of pioneer American inventor Lewis Howard Latimer. Like Latimer, many of us have had to affirm our existence by telling our own stories as a way of offering new perspectives on our lived experiences. I’m thrilled to partner with Beam Center, their Fellows and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DUMBO Improvement District to collectively reexamine our local history and put into context the meaningful impact of Latimer’s legacy on our everyday lives.”
“We’ve always thought that young people, for their futures, required authentic experiences of collaboration,” adds Brian Cohen, Executive Director, Beam Center. “When we saw Shervone’s proposal, we were fascinated to learn that Lewis Latimer’s love of drawing was the catalyst for all the greatness he achieved in life. At Beam, we believe one’s interest can form the core of a career and continued learning. We’re here to help young people believe in their own capacity and ideas, and to use their interests as springboards for innovation in whatever direction they decide to go.”
“Public art has always connected the Downtown Brooklyn community and BEACON is a perfect addition to our streetscape,” said Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “This interactive sculpture beautifully honors Lewis Latimer’s innovative spirit while providing a unique opportunity for local youth to showcase their talents. We invite our community to engage with Beacon, pausing to reflect on its history and intricate design details.”
BEACON will be on view at Downtown Brooklyn’s Albee Square through Spring 2022. The installation site is walking distance from where Lewis and Mary Latimer lived from 1893 to 1902 on Adelphi Street between Willoughby St. and Myrtle Avenue. The installation was most recently on view in Flushing, Queens at the Lewis Latimer House Museum where Latimer raised his family from 1902 till his death in 1928.
BEACON is one of twelve new public art and performance projects and five accessibility upgrades to cultural venues that are taking place throughout the greater Downtown Brooklyn area as part of the Downtown Brooklyn + Dumbo Art Fund led by Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DUMBO Improvement District. The fund was one of the projects selected as part of New York State’s $10 million Downtown Brooklyn Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), which seeks to connect and transform downtown neighborhoods into vibrant communities.
INSTALLATION LOCATION DETAILS
Beacon will be on display to the public beginning October 2 at Albee Square, located at the intersection of Fulton Street, DeKalb Avenue and Albee Square West in Downtown Brooklyn and is accessible by the 2,3, B, Q and R trains.
ABOUT THE DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN + DUMBO ART FUND
The Downtown Brooklyn + Dumbo Art Fund, a partnership of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Dumbo Improvement District, provides grants for eligible public art, performance, and accessibility projects that serve to enhance public space, increase access to cultural programming, and connect the neighborhoods of the Downtown Brooklyn area. Funding for these transformative grants has been provided by New York State through its Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). Part of New York State’s approach to create vibrant neighborhoods and boost local economies, DRI investments are a crucial part of the State’s strategy to revitalize communities.
ABOUT SHERVONE NECKLES
Shervone Neckles is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and community worker. Neckles’ draws inspiration from the duality and transitional nature of her Afro-Grenadian, American identity. Her work embraces collage, alternative printmaking techniques, book arts, sculpture and social investigations. She has participated in residencies as diverse as the Youlou Arts Foundation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, WI; Wave Hill, NY; Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, FL; The Elizabeth Foundation’s SHIFT Program, NY; The Center for Book Arts, NY; The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, ME among many other residency programs. Previous awards include grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Queens Council on the Arts, Foundation of Contemporary Art, Puffin Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, and fellowships from Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and Manhattan Graphic Center. Her award-winning work has been shown worldwide in both group and solo exhibitions and featured in the 2019 Venice Biennale’s Grenada Pavilion. Her practice also includes curatorial projects; Amplify Action: Sustain- ability through the Arts with Pratt Center for Community Development and Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation in Brooklyn, NY; and From Taboo to Icon: Africanist Turnabout at the Ice Box Galley in Philadelphia, PA. Neckles’ has earned an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University, MFA from Queens College and BFA from The College of New Rochelle. Neckles’ currently lives with her partner and son in Queens, New York.
ABOUT BEAM CENTER
Beam Center empowers young people to do spectacular things and puts creative and technical production practices, collaboration, agency, and real-world connections at the center of learning environments. Programs include in-school partnerships with 29 elementary, middle, and high schools throughout New York City and an after-school apprenticeship and employment programs where teens learn in-depth technical skills and STEM concepts, and train for paid summer or afterschool jobs. Beam Center’s approach is drawn from its ongoing work at Beam Camp, a summer camp in New Hampshire in its 16th year, where young people collaborate with builders and big thinkers to build ambitious, collaborative projects created with traditional and advanced tools and technologies.