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Virtual | Reimagining Public Monuments: Old Stories & New Narratives

June 2, 2021 | 6:00 pm

6pm ET | 5pm CT | 4pm PT

We are delighted to present Monuments & Memorials: Then & Now, a three part series about the history, context and creation of public monuments and memorials.

This first panel will introduce milestones and controversies of past memorials and monuments. We will hear from Professor Harriet F. Senie, Professor of Art History at C.U.N.Y. and its Graduate Center, who will offer her perspective on The Evolution of Monuments: Paradigms and Underlying Issues based on her 30 years of experience teaching, writing and participating on national selection commissions in the field of public art. She is joined by artist Alison Saar, who will reflect on her much admired permanent 2007 Harriet Tubman Monument in Harlem, a case study, in New York City where there are few monuments to women or non-white males. We will also hear from artist Marisa Williamson, who is known for reimagining under-represented historical subjects by bringing these figures to life through performance art and augmented reality (AR). She will speak about her practice using new narratives and new media for contemporary audiences. Cathie Behrend, ArtTable New York member who co-organized this series, will introduce the program and panelists.

The second panel in this series will be announced in the coming weeks and will focus on Reimagining Public Monuments & Memorials: Through Other Lenses. What have we seen? Whose stories will we now tell? Who will decide? Who will provide funding? What visions do artists now imagine for the future? A third panel in September will wrap up the series with a focus on the Preservation of Public Monuments & Sacred Spaces at Home & Abroad. We hope you will join us for all three!

We also look forward to sharing more information on an upcoming walking tour of Harlem with Cathie Behrend that will highlight monuments and memorials in the neighborhood, including Alison Saar’s “Swing Low: Harriet Tubman Memorial” and the Frederick Douglass Sculpture and Water Wall. Stay tuned for more details!


  • Non-Members – $15
  • ArtTable Members – $10
  • ArtTable Circle Members – Free
  • Members may bring an additional guest for $5

How to take part:

  1. Click here to Register for this program.
  2. Following registration you will receive call-in information in the form of a ZOOM link.
  3. Before joining a Zoom meeting on a computer or mobile device, you can download the Zoom app from the Download Center and select the “Zoom Client for Meetings” option. Alternatively, you will be prompted to download and install Zoom when you click a join link.
  4. For further instruction on how to use Zoom, see here.

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Accessibility: Please note that this program will offer live closed captioning. If you require additional accommodations, please email

About Professor Harriet F. Senie

Harriett SenieHarriet F. Senie is professor of art history at City College and the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of Memorials to Shattered Myths: Vietnam to 9/11; The “Tilted Arc” Controversy: Dangerous Precedent?; and Contemporary Public Sculpture: Tradition, Transformation, and Controversy.  She is co-editor and contributor to Teachable Monuments: Using Public Art to Spark Dialogue and Confront Controversy; Museums and Public Art?; A Companion to Public Art; and Critical Issues in Public Art. In 2008, she cofounded Public Art Dialogue, an international organization and College Art Association affiliate, and coedited its peer review journal Public Art Dialogue from 2011-17. She has served on the New York City Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers; the She Built New York advisory committee, and selection committees for the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument in Central Park; the Mexico City 1968 Memorial; and the Flight 587 Memorial. Her current book project is Monumental Controversies: Mount Rushmore, Four Presidents, and the Quest for National Identity.

About Alison Saar

Alison SaarAlison Saar was born in Los Angeles, California. She has been commissioned to create a number of Public Monuments including Swing Low a monument to Harriet Tubman, Terra Incognita a memorial to York of the Lewis and Clark expedition and Embodied a monument to Justice. She received the United States Artist Fellowship in 2012 and has also been awarded the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and two National Endowment Fellowships. Alison has exhibited at many galleries and museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her art is represented in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Baltimore Art Museum, the Modern Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

About Marisa Williamson

Marisa Williamson; a black woman with her hair pulled back by a red bandana; wearing a black tank top; standing in front of a grey and pale green muralMarisa Williamson is a project-based artist who has produced site-specific works at Monticello, & by commission from Storm King Art Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Monument Lab, & the National Park Service. She has had solo exhibitions at the University of Virginia, the University of Washington, & SPACES in Cleveland. Her work has been exhibited nationally & internationally. Williamson has received grants from the Rema Hort Mann Foundation, the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, & the Graham Foundation. Williamson holds a BA from Harvard & an MFA from CalArts. She lives & works in New Jersey & Connecticut, serving as an assistant professor of media arts at the University of Hartford.


Thank you to Cathie Behrend, former Deputy Director of New York’s Percent for Art Program and founder of VenturesinVision, and Lori Shepard, member of ArtTable’s New York Chapter Programs Committee, for organizing this program series.


  1. Marisa Williamson, Ruffin Hall: University of Virginia – Seeing that nothing is purely black or white, the Ghost of Thomas Jefferson wanders in this grey area. Charlottesville, VA. From Postcard Book: The Ghost of Thomas Jefferson, 2018. Edition of 150. Photo by Gabby Fuller. Courtesy of the Artist. | Swing Low: A Harriet Tubman memorial by Alison Saar (Photo: Devin A. Hill for TravelMag)
  2. Harriet F. Senie, courtesy of the speaker
  3. Alison Saar Self Portrait, courtesy of the artist
  4. Marisa Williamson, courtesy of the artist


June 2, 2021
6:00 pm
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ArtTable New York
212 343 1735 Ext. 13

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