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Exploring Virtual Village Voices, Part 2: Basquiat, Blackwell, and Brown

In 2021 and 2022, Village Preservation developed an innovative outdoor public art exhibition that was displayed throughout Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. VILLAGE VOICES featured photographs, artifacts, and soundscape recordings to celebrate and honor the artistic, social, political, and cultural movements that have grown in our neighborhoods, and the people who gave them voice. 

We have now made the exhibits available online. Today we explore three more of our 31 shadowboxes from the event, covering Jean-Michel Basquiat, Elizabeth Blackwell, and Margaret Wise Brown.

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s career as a burgeoning artist began in the 1970s while he was a student at City-as-School High School at 16 Clarkson Street in the West Village. By the 1980s, his life and work became almost synonymous with the East Village/NoHo art scene of the period. From 1983 until his death in 1988, he lived and worked at 57 Great Jones Street, a former stable owned by his friend Andy Warhol. Inspired by the street art around him, he created some of his most significant works during this period, often referencing issues of class and race. His 1983 painting Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart) decried the death of artist Michael Stewart, a young Black Pratt Institute student and graffiti artist, while in police custody after his arrest at the First Avenue and 14th Street L subway station. Basquiat, whose parents hailed from Haiti and Puerto Rico, was also one of the first Black artists to achieve his level of success in the art world; in 2017, his painting Untitled commanded $111 million at auction, the highest ever for an American artist at the time.

Jean-Michel Basquiat shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

Click here to learn more about Jean-Michel Basquiat.

The audio is narrated by Serge Ossorguine, an award-winning audio engineer who creates sound content and technology infrastructure for theater, film, television, and recording studios. He also designed and created the audio and digital experience of VILLAGE VOICES. 

Elizabeth Blackwell

In 1849, groundbreaking physician Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman in the United States to receive a medical degree. Two years later, she moved to New York City and quickly established institutions to help those in need throughout our communities, including a medical office at 80 University Place as well as a dispensary that opened at the no-longer-extant 207 East 7th Street and later moved to present-day 150 East 3rd Street. In 1857, Blackwell founded the first hospital for women, staffed by women, and run by women: the New York Infirmary for Women and Children, at 58 Bleecker Street. In 1868, she made another leap forward for women and the community when she opened the first women’s medical college, at 128 Second Avenue.

Elizabeth Blackwell shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

Read more about Elizabeth Blackwell’s life and career here.

The audio is narrated by Dr. Monica Prasad Hayes, a member of the Faculty Practice in Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Division of Gynecologic Oncology. Dr. Prasad Hayes graduated from Cornell University and obtained her medical degree from SUNY Upstate Medical University at Syracuse, where she was inducted as a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. 

Margaret Wise Brown

An author of more than 100 children’s books and a poet, Margaret Wise Brown is best known for her beloved work Goodnight Moon. She often collaborated with the most era-defining illustrators of the day, including Clement Hurd, Garth Williams, Leonard Weisgard, Dahlov Ipar, H.A. Rey, Richard Scarry, Esphyr Slobodkina, Crockett Johnson, and Alice and Martin Provensen. Brown wrote Goodnight Moon and many other classics from her crooked, early 19th-century clapboard farmhouse at York Avenue and East 71st Street in the 1940s and 1950s; the structure, facing demolition in the 1960s, was saved by preservationists and moved from the Upper East Side to 121 Charles Street (between Greenwich and Hudson Streets).

Margaret Wise Brown shadowbox designed by Penny Hardy, PS New York

Click here to learn more about Margaret Wise Brown and how her cottage arrived in Greenwich Village.

The audio, a reading of Goodnight Moon, is presented by Lannyl Stephens, producer and co-curator of VILLAGE VOICES.

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