Sculpture artist Zaq Landsberg created and presented the illustrations for this piece during the last administration, prior to COVID-19 and our citywide shutdown. It was inspired by Buddhist imagery, and meant to depict our iconic American landmark, weary, reclining, and asking the question ~ “what stage of America are we in.” COVID-19 closed our city, and Reclining Lady lay waiting, like all of us, for better days.
Fast-forward one year (or-what a difference a year makes). With a new administration and a city that is beginning to bloom along with spring, Zaq Landsberg: Reclining Liberty will emerge from the artists’ studio, with an installation date set for May 1, 2021 in Morningside Park, Harlem
Reclining Liberty is one of 6 public art installations included in a self-guided art walk through the neighborhoods of Harlem. Maps are available at various locations including La Marqueta, the Morningside Park Farmers Market and JVS Project Space. To view online Public Art ~ Park to Park Map.
In his artist statement, Zaq Landsberg ~ Reclining Liberty is a mashup of the Statue of Liberty and the giant reclining Buddha statues of Asia. The piece, coated in plaster resin, is sturdy enough to allow viewers to touch, climb, sit atop, lean up against, the figure, and interact with the monument at a human level. Finished with copper paint and an oxidizing acid, the patina mimics the actual Statue of Liberty.”
“The pose of the Buddha lying down is not just about death but is an illustration of one stage on the path to enlightenment. By merging the traditional Buddhist reclining pose and the quintessential American figurative symbol, Reclining Liberty asks the viewer to contemplate the statues of the idols the Statue of Liberty represents. Is the U.S. as an entity forever upright and tall, is it an eventual decline and fall, or is there another stage for the country that will transcend this symbol altogether. After all the events of 2020, and the unmooring of pretty much every American institution, this question is not just theoretical.”
Moments are where the historical, the political and the aesthetic meet. This is a through line in Lands work. the U.S. is in the midst of a re-evaluation of monuments, their history, how they function in public space, how they’ve changed from their inception and their impact on the communities they’re in. Landsberg twists recognizable monuments to shed light on these questions and demystify the agendas that created them.
“I feel like we need public art more than ever this year, said Connie Lee, President of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance. Zaq Landsberg’s creative mind brings us a sculpture that is effortless to engage with. This collaboration with Brad Taylor and the Friends of Morningside Park, is an example of community organizations working together to support Harlem-based artists and present quality art in public spaces in upper Manhattan.”
“We are thrilled to be working with NYC Parks and the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance (MGPA) to bring Zaq Landsberg’s Reclining Liberty sculpture to Morningside Park,” said Brad Taylor, the President of the Friends of Morningside Park. We are especially grateful to Connie Lee, the President of MGPA, for spearheading this exciting project which brings together two of the four parks advocacy groups that are members of the Historic Harlem parks Coalition, which has been collaborating on programming in our parks for twenty years. We are sure ‘Lady Liberty’ will enjoy her beautiful resting place in Morningside Park as much as we will enjoy having her in our midst.”
Reclining Liberty is made possible in part with funding from: Friends of Morningside Park, LMCC, Marcus Garvey Park Alliance, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, and Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation (UMEZ).
Zaq Landsberg specializes in large scale, site-specific sculptures. Much of his work involves things that look like other things.
He exhibited solo shows with NYC Parks, with Chahama (NYC) at the La Ene (Buenos Aires, Argentina), CUAC Salt Lake City), Pehrspace (Los Angeles) and group exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens), Centro Cultural Kirchner (Buenos Aires), Bronx Community College (NY), New York University, Figment Festival (Governors Island, NY), Old Stone House (Brooklyn), etc.
He was awarded a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Residency (2019-2020), a UMEZ Arts Engagement Grant (2020), LMCC Creative Engagement Grant (2020), the NYC Parks Dept. Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award (2020), the Art in the Parks; UNIQLO Park Expressions Grant, NYC (2018) and a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in Sculpture (2017).
He was a More Art Engaging Artist Fellow, NYC (2019), a Jerome Fellow at Franconia Sculpture Park, MN (2017), an Emerging Artist Fellow at Socrates Sculpture Park, NYC (2014), Artist-in-Residence at Sculpture Space (Utica, NY) in 2012. Born in Los Angeles, CA, he lives and works in NYC. He holds a BFA from NYU. Follow the artist on Instagram.
Ever wonder what installing a sculpture this size is like? Below are a few pictures taken during the installation, courtesy of Connie Lee.
About Marcus Garvey Park Alliance: The Marcus Garvey Park Alliance produces public art installations, concerts, dance performances and cultural programming in public spaces throughout the neighborhoods of Harlem. The Alliance as it is commonly referred to works comprehensively and collaboratively to create opportunities for uptown artists, women artists, Black and Latinx artists, serving the community as a cultural equity partner. Follow Marcus Garvey Park Alliance on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Friends of Morningside Park: The Friends of Morningside Park was founded in 1981. They are catalysts for the rehabilitation and maintenance of Morningside Park in accordance with the ideals of its original designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and its well-deserved status as a Scenic Landmark of New York City.
In 2000, the organization commissioned a Master Plan for Morningside Park which was based on extensive community input. The ongoing mission continues to raise private funds and advocate for public funds to implement capital improvements called for in the plan.
Programming organized by Friends of Morningside Park over the past 40 years has included arts and cultural festivals, a farmer’s market, film screenings, public art installations, musical and theatrical performances, and sports tournaments. Follow The Friends of Morningside Park on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks: For more than 50 years, NYC Parks’ Art in the Park 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 the parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, NYC Parks has collaborated with arts organizations and artists to produce more than 2,000 public artworks by 1,300 notable and emerging artists in more than 200 parks. Follow NYC Parks’ Art in the Parks.
Zaq Landsbert: Reclining Liberty will be on view May 1, 2021 through April, 2022 in Morningside Park, at the base of the stairs at 120th Street and Manhattan Avenue in Harlem.
Love this installation? Help artists pay for their projects. Preparing for the next installation in Morningside Park, DONATE HERE.
Morningside Park is also sporting a $3.3 million reconstructed playground and basketball court at West 118th Street. Ribbon-cutting took place in mid-April, 2021, and also included an updated BBQ area, spray shower, new benches, pavements and fencing.
Take a ride to Fort Tryon Park to see Zaq Landsberg: Tomb Effigy of Margaret Corbin, on view through June 12, 2022. For this installation, Landsberg was the 2020 recipient of the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award.