Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff joined The Battery Conservancy President and Founder Warrie Price, Council Member Margaret Chin, Community Board 1 Chair Tammy Meltzer, artist Hebru Brantley, and community members on Sunday to unveil Brantley’s sculpture, The Great Debate, at The Battery. The artwork, which stands 16-feet tall, is exhibited in partnership with The Battery and NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program, and will be on display through November 13, 2022.
“Art has the power to bring people together in conversation,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The Great Debate will do just that. I want to thank Hebru Brantley for bringing New York City his incredible artwork and NYC Parks and The Battery for making this exhibit possible.”
“We are thrilled that Hebru Brantley has brought his Flyboy series to life at Parks with The Great Debate,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Gabrielle Fialkoff. “Pieces like The Great Debate not only beautify our public spaces but provoke reflection and conversation. We are grateful to Hebru for sharing his vision with us, and there’s no better place than The Battery for such engaging, energetic artwork.”
Hebru Brantley’s The Great Debate is part of the artist’s Flyboy series, created as an exploration into what a superhero character of color would look like. The 16-foot-tall steel and painted fiberglass artwork will be on display in The Battery through November 13, 2022.
“The Battery welcomes The Great Debate with its strength in stature and spirit of empowerment,” said Warrie Price, President and Founder of The Battery. “After surviving the past eighteen months we look to Flyboy to energize the millions that pass to speak with renewed hope and to respect the voices of others.”
“I am very humbled and honored to be presenting my sculpture to the public audience at The Battery in the great city of New York,” said artist Hebru Brantley. “The Great Debate is a piece that is personal and important to me – it features Flyboy in a stance that represents confident optimism. My hope is that The Great Debate at The Battery will serve as a consistent reminder to hold your head high, stand firm in what you believe in, and keep pushing forward with confidence.”
Within the canon of comics, very few characters of color exist. Flyboy was created by Hebru Brantley as an exploration into what a superhero character of color would look like. Inspired by the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American military aviator pilots who fought in World War II, they carried out all successful missions and had the lowest loss records of all fighter groups. At a time when black folks were treated far less than equal, the Tuskegee Airmen’s successes meant that much more. Flyboy is a nod of admiration and respect to these men and an inspiration to future generations aspiring to soar far above their predicted possibilities.
About Hebru Brantley
Hebru Brantley creates narrative-driven work revolving around his conceptualized iconic characters which are utilized to address complex ideas around nostalgia, the mental psyche, power, and hope. The color palettes, pop-art motifs, and characters themselves create accessibility around Brantley’s layered and multifaceted beliefs. Majorly influenced by the South Side of Chicago’s AfriCobra movement in the 1960s and 70s, Brantley applies a plethora of mediums from oil, acrylic, watercolor and spray paint to non-traditional mediums such as coffee and tea. Brantley’s work challenges the traditional view of the hero or protagonist and his work insists on a contemporary and distinct narrative that shapes and impacts the viewer’s gaze.
About NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks Program
For over 50 years, NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks program has brought contemporary public artworks to over 200 of the city’s parks, collaborating with arts organizations and artists to produce over 2,000 works by 1,300 notable and emerging artists. For more information on works currently on view, and for tips on how to exhibit with Parks, visit nyc.gov/parks/art.
About The Battery Conservancy
The Battery Conservancy was founded in 1994 to revitalize The Battery, New York’s 25 acre birthplace park in partnership with the City of New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation. It is guided by the principles of environmental stewardship, historical authenticity, design excellence, innovative education, and openness to all. The park is maintained by private donations to The Battery Conservancy.