Public Art Sculpture Comes To Brooklyn To Illuminate Life Of Lewis H. Latimer

A collaboration between artist Shervone Neckles in partnership with Youth Empowerment Organization, Beam Center.

By: Sep. 29, 2021
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Public Art Sculpture Comes To Brooklyn To Illuminate Life Of Lewis H. Latimer

Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and DUMBO Improvement District will unveil a public art sculpture by Shervone Neckles in partnership with Beam Center at Albee Square Plaza, Downtown Brooklyn Saturday, October 2 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, the BEACON is being installed at Albee Square in celebration of Latimer's 173rd birthday by Artist Shervone Neckles in partnership with Youth Empowerment Organization, Beam Center. Built by a team of Beam Center's Fellows - a cohort of NYC youth who learned metal-working, welding, circuitry, cement/polymer casting, mold-making, and collaboration - the installation's light stands as a beacon of self-expression, possibility, and community for our city. 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 in Downtown Brooklyn's Albee Square through Spring 2022. The installation site is walking distance from where Lewis and Mary Latimer lived in 1893 - 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.

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. There will be a ribbon cutting event that begins at 5:30 p.m.


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