Manuel Acevedo • 2019 • Archival images, hand-drawn proposals, wood, and vinyl adhesive • Military Park
Manuel Acevedo has been thinking creatively and critically about Military Park for most of his life. In the early 1980s, as a Newark Arts High School student, Acevedo walked through the park and began questioning its central landmark, Wars of America (1926). Soon after, he began documenting, reflecting, and envisioning temporary ways to change the physical appearance of the monument. “I was drawn to the piece for its movement, how it was built on an incline, the way it occupied space, and its larger-than-life figures—that upon closer examination, did not reflect the local community I witnessed gathering around the central landmark. I became increasingly intrigued by the social juxtaposition inherent in Military Park,” offered Acevedo. From his photo documentation of the 1986 “End Apartheid Now” rally to aerial views of the park’s symbolic shape, Acevedo’s documentation and research on Military Park spans three decades. His enduring interest in the site informed a series of proposals for public intervention to confront the history of wars, civilian bombings, and systemic oppression. Arguably the most significant revelation about the Wars of America monument lies in the personal narrative of the sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who was affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan. Acevedo seeks to publicly uncover Borglum’s ignored or forgotten history through a “public happening” in Military Park during the Newark Arts Festival where he will treat the monument with a series of camouflage veils. Drawing on his own archive of documentary images and hand-drawn approaches to grappling with the monument, Acevedo’s project includes a re-envisioned historic sign installed in the park based on his “Cam-Up” proposals.
Fabrication: John Greig and Sedakial Gebremedhin for Traction Company
Design: William Roy Hodgson
About the Artist
Manuel Acevedo (b. 1964, Newark) combines photography, projected image, drawing, flipbook animation, murals and large scale public art to explore how light and movement shape experience. Through various media he employs visual language in ways that transform flat, static images into active spaces of experimentation. Acevedo is the recipient of the 2019 Colene Brown Art Prize at BRIC. He has been exhibiting his work in the United States and abroad for over thirty years. Recent solo and group exhibitions include: Mirror Mirror at Express Newark – Rutgers University (2018); Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography at El Museo del Barrio (2018), Senses, Art in Odd Places, NY, (2017), elmueso@sva at SVA Chelsea Gallery (2016), Then and Now, Center for Book Arts, NY, (2015), Prickly, Tender and Steamy: Artists in the Hothouse at Wave Hill, Bronx, NY (2014), Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington D.C. (2013), Round 36, The House the Alhacen Built at Project Row Houses in Houston, TX (2012) and Al-Ghaib Aesthetics of Disappearance at Maraya Art Centre in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2011). In 2010, Acevedo’s critically acclaimed Keys of Light exhibition was presented at the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas, TX and The Bronx River Art Center. He has had solo exhibitions at Jersey City Museum and the Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies. Among his awards and residencies are those received from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Visual Artist Network, Longwood Arts Project, Mid-Atlantic Foundation, Studio Museum in Harlem, and AIR. Acevedo is based in the Bronx, New York.