The New Social Environment#173

Monuments Now: Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Xaviera Simmons


1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Artists in the Socrates Sculpture Park exhibition Xaviera Simmons, Jeffrey Gibson, and Paul Ramírez Jonas will join curator Jess Wilcox to discuss the role of monuments in society and commemorate underrepresented narratives such as diasporic, Indigenous, and queer histories. We’ll conclude with a poetry reading from writer, organizer, and educator Jive Poetic.

In this talk

In this turbulent moment when we find ourselves reevaluating American identity and values, the MONUMENTS NOW exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park seeks to address the role of monuments in society and commemorate underrepresented narratives such as diasporic, Indigenous, and queer histories.

MONUMENTS NOW evolves over three cumulative parts. Part I opens opens summer 2020 with major new commissions for contemporary monuments by acclaimed artists Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Xaviera Simmons. Then Part II and Part III of the exhibition open together on October 10, 2020. Part II encompasses ten monument sculptures by the Park’s 2020 Artist Fellows and Part III features a multi-faceted monument project collectively realized by high school students. All three parts of the exhibition remain on view through March 2021.

In response to MONUMENTS NOW, the Park’s Broadway Billboard will also feature a monuments-related artwork by artist Nona Faustine. Furthermore, in acknowledgment of how monuments are shaped by society as well as by artists, the public is invited to share their reactions on-site and online over the course of the exhibition.

The exhibition will be documented in an artist-focused publication made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation.

MONUMENTS NOW is organized by Socrates Sculpture Park and curated by Jess Wilcox, Socrates Curator & Director of Exhibitions.

Find out more or plan a visit:

Jeffrey Gibson

Jeffrey Gibson portrait drawing
Portrait by Phong H. Bui

Jeffrey Gibson’s multimedia practice synthesizes the cultural and artistic traditions of his Cherokee and Choctaw heritage with the visual languages of Modernism and themes from contemporary popular and queer culture. His work is a vibrant call for queer and Indigenous empowerment, envisioning a celebration of strength and joy within these communities.

Jeffrey Gibson (b. 1972, Colorado Springs, CO) grew up in major urban centers in the United States, Germany, Korea, and England. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1995 and Master of Arts in painting at the Royal College of Art, London, in 1998. He is a citizen of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and is half Cherokee. He is currently an artist-in-residence at Bard College and lives and works near Hudson, New York.

Paul Ramírez Jonas

Paul Ramírez Jonas
Portrait drawing of Paul Ramírez Jonas by Phong H. Bui
Paul Ramírez Jonas was born in Pomona, California in 1965 and raised in Honduras. Educated at Brown University (BA, 1987) and Rhode Island School of Design (MFA, 1989), Ramírez Jonas, currently lives and works in Brooklyn. Over the last twenty-five years Ramírez Jonas has created works that range from large-scale public installations and monumental sculptures to intimate drawings, performances and videos. Through his practice he seeks to challenge definitions of art and the public, engineering active audience participation and exchange. For example, his 2010 Creative Time project, ‘Key to the City,’ involved 20,000 participants and centered around a key as a vehicle for exploring social contracts pertaining to trust, access, and belonging. Keys have featured repeatedly in his work as symbols of access and exclusion as well as public and private ownership. Multiples based on everyday objects such as coins also are a reoccurring motif, allowing the artist to question notions of value, circulation, and societal rituals or behaviors. He is currently an Associate Professor at Hunter College, where he has been since 2007, and is represented Galeria Nara Roesler.

Xaviera Simmons

Xaviera Simmons
Portrait of Xaviera Simmons by Phong Bui
Xaviera Simmons’s body of work spans photography, performance, video, sound, sculpture and installation. She defines her studio practice, which is rooted in an ongoing investigation of experience, memory, abstraction, present and future histories-specifically shifting notions surrounding landscape-as cyclical rather than linear. In other words, Simmons is committed equally to the examination of different artistic modes and processes; for example, she may dedicate part of a year to photography, another part to performance, and other parts to installation, video, and sound works-keeping her practice in constant and consistent rotation, shift, and engagement.

Jess Wilcox

Jess Wilcox
Jess Wilcox is the Curator & Director of Exhibitions at Socrates Sculpture Park where she has curated several group and solo exhibitions including ‘Chronos Cosmos: Deep Time, Open Space’; Virginia Overton: ‘Built’; ‘Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again’; ’The Socrates Annual’ exhibitions; and the Folly/Function architectural competition. From 2011-2015 she worked at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, organizing public programs and public artworks including Agitprop!, an exhibition of historical and contemporary political art. Wilcox has a BA from Barnard College and a Master’s degree from Bard CCS.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poetry reading, and we’re fortunate to have Jive Poetic reading.

Jive Poetic

A photograph of Jive Poetic, wearing a read sweater.
Courtesy Jive Poetic
Jive Poetic is a writer, organizer, and educator based in Brooklyn. He is founder of Insurgent Poets Society, Carnival Slam: Cultural Exchange, and co-founder of Brooklyn Poetry Slam. Jive is a curator/host at Nuyorican Poet’s Café and teaches poetry and hip-hop to at-risk youth.

❤️ 🌈 We'd like to thank the The Terra Foundation for American Art for making these daily conversations possible, and for their support of our growing archive.