Harlem Grown and Jerome Haferd/ Brandt: Haferd announce opening of "Sankofa" Installation in Marcus Garvey Park

Installation will host programming and exhibit local art as a centerpiece of the Culture, Creativity, & Care Initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation.

Images - HERE

(New York, NY - June 2023) Harlem Grown and Jerome W Haferd of BRANDT : HAFERD announced the grand opening on June 18 of a new art installation in Marcus Garvey Park through NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program. “Sankofa” is the first of multiple interactive installations to serve as centerpiece nodes of the Mellon Foundation-funded Culture, Creativity, & Care initiative over summers of 2023 and 2024.

Jerome W Haferd of BRANDT : HAFERD, a local Black-led public art and architecture practice, designed “Sankofa” with community input. “Sankofa” is the first outdoor hub to be unveiled as part of the initiative. “Sankofa” derives from the Akan African folklore, symbolizing remembrance of things forgotten, and means “in order to know our future we must look to our past”. The installation is a new design inspired by centuries of tradition and will host a range of events and art that celebrate the rich histories of Harlem’s communities while showcasing fresh interpretations of those ideas. 

The design concept was inspired by working with groups of community members in Harlem and East Harlem. The piece draws upon intersectional cultures including African, Afro-caribbean and Indigenous craft traditions and as well as the everyday histories and contemporary life of the Park. The 32-foot circular structure incorporates a gathering space below a striking fabric mesh canopy that features a complex printed design depicting archival images and digitally composed layers evoking a “mythology” of Marcus Garvey Park, as well as other Harlem-inspired motifs. The interior space is surrounded by a rotating art gallery. Visitors pass underneath to reveal a ring of mounted artwork, a rotating exhibit that will feature the work of numerous local artists over the course of the summer. 

The project involved planning and collaboration with local artists and makers across various artistic styles and media. Despite its bespoke appearance, the installation is based on a modular system and uses sturdy, reusable materials that can be reconfigured for a number of future uses or sites. ​ 


About the Culture Creativity & Care Initiative:

The Culture, Creativity, & Care Initiative is a two-year project that will center on historic Marcus Garvey Park and amplify Harlem’s rich history and culture for a diverse audience of community members and visitors. Within the Mellon Foundation’s Humanities in Place Initiative, the Culture, Creativity, & Care project focuses on fostering creativity and care in this essential public space at the heart of New York’s Harlem community.

As an organization that honors its deep connections to the culture and people of Harlem, Harlem Grown looks forward to partnering with and supporting local organizations to advance the park’s legacy of visual arts, performing arts, food, and liberal arts programming. Harlem Grown administered Open Calls for events and visual artwork to be featured as part of the initiative in summer 2023, and received 80 qualifying submissions, which are being reviewed by community-based selection committees. Organizations hosting events are encouraged to utilize “Sankofa” as an event space, however events and performances will be hosted throughout the park. Visual artists’ work will be reproduced and displayed inside “Sankofa’s” outdoor gallery in exhibitions throughout the summer.

Harlem Grown is also promoting its RFP for both events and art to be hosted in Summer 2024. Applications are due by October 1st, 2023. Projects up to $50,000 are eligible for full- or partial-funding through the initiative.

Anyone seeking more information on the initiative may email CCCI@harlemgrown.org


About Harlem Grown

Harlem Grown is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives through mentorship and hands-on education in urban farming, sustainability, and nutrition. Founded in 2011, we operate local urban farms, increase access to and knowledge of healthy food for Harlem residents, and provide garden-based development programs to Harlem youth. For more information, visit: www.harlemgrown.org


About Jerome Haferd / BRANDT : HAFERD

BRANDT : HAFERD is a Harlem-based, Black-led architecture and design studio. Their body of work includes academic research and a range of built projects - from the domestic to the workplace to the urban. Performance and Play, Abstract vs. Built Form, Nature and Territory, and the Individual vs. Collective are some of the interests explored in the practice.


About NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks Program

For nearly 60 years, NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has brought contemporary public artworks to the city’s parks, making New York City one of the world’s largest open-air galleries. The agency has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, NYC Parks has collaborated with arts organizations and artists to produce more than 3,000 public artworks by 1,500 notable and emerging artists in more than 200 parks. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/parks/art.


About the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at www.mellon.org.


About Marcus Garvey Park

Marcus Garvey Park has been a vibrant community resource since 1840. First named Mt. Morris Park, the park name was changed in 1973 to honor the Black social justice hero and businessman Marcus Garvey. Overseen by NYC Parks and one of the four Historic Harlem Parks, the park includes the city’s last remaining fire watchtower from 1856; a swimming pool designed by Black Harlem architect Percy Ifill; a recreation center named for a Trinidadian NYC Parks worker; and NYC Park’s largest amphitheater for public programming at 1600 seats, named for famous former park resident, Broadway’s Richard Rodgers. It hosts a wide array of formal and informal programming produced by the public, NYC Parks, City Parks Foundation, Jazzmobile, Classical Theater of Harlem and many more. The park hosted the famed Harlem Cultural Festival, the focus of the Oscar-nominated film, “Summer of Soul,” and is currently being considered as a new addition to the National Register of Historic Places.


Sankofa Installation Details:

Jerome W Haferd / BRANDT : HAFERD, 2023

32’-0 diameter. steel, printed polymer mesh, timber, wood, and various

Lead Designer : Jerome Haferd (lead / principal)

Design Team : Violet Greenberg, Tiffany Gonzalez, Gabriel Moyer-Perez (project manager)

Mesh Canopy Artwork / Composition : Jerome Haferd, Violet Greenberg, Gabriel Moyer-Perez

Install support : Dominiq Oti, Pedro Cruz Cruz, Suraya Babb, and Shadeen Dixon

Consultants and Collaborators:

Steel Fabrication : Ziello Custom Framing and Fine Art https://www.ziello.com/

Printed Canopy and Art Panel Collaboration : NVS Visuals https://nvsvisuals.com/

Wood fabrication, design, and detailing : Tyreik Jackson, AREYOUAFIXER.com

Sitework : Franpen Restoration 

Partners: Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association, Heath Gallery 





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