7. First Nations Signal Rededication Ceremony

Mel Chin, Signal, installation view, 1997. Photo by Rob Wilson from MTA Arts & Design.

On May 13th, a rededication ceremony of Mel Chin’s Signal will take place inside the Broadway-Lafayette Street station to honor indigenous contributions to the public artwork and acknowledge the history of the site as a former Native American trail. The ceremony is a collaboration between No Longer Empty, Queens Museum, AMERINDA (American Indian Artists Inc.), and MTA Arts & Design. The ceremony will be hosted by members of the Iroquois Six Nations, who will welcome participants to the site, sharing remarks on the history of New York City and current environmental battles being waged in the region.

A new plaque will be presented that adds the contributions of G. Peter Jemison (Heron Clan-Seneca), and members of the Iroquois Six Nations (Haudenosaunee) to the conception of Mel Chin’s Signal, a permanent installation that was commissioned in 1997 by MTA Arts & Design as part of the Broadway-Lafayette Street station rehabilitation. For the installation, Chin designed light “signals” patterned after “Council Fire” badges, masonic symbols reimagined by 18th century Iroquois silversmiths. Stainless steel cones at the bases of structural columns light up when trains approach. The message on the walls today affirms they are here, holding strong and extending peace. The Signal Rededication Ceremony is a part of the multi-site exhibition, Mel Chin: All Over The Place — co-presented by No Longer Empty and the Queens Museum — which is currently on view at the Queens Museum and will unveil large-scale sculpture and mixed-reality projects in Times Square this July.