18. Light of Freedom at Madison Square Park
Amidst the greens of Madison Square Park is a torch whose fire is made up of the arms of blue mannequins. An outdoor art project, Light of Freedom speaks on the latest political turmoil engulfing the nation, with a global pandemic that affects the lives of tens of millions of Americans and large-scale social justice protests for racial equality that is long overdue. The torch is meant to represent the beacon of democracy by closely resembling the torch held by Lady Liberty that had been displayed in the same park before.
The artist Abigail DeVille said that the project is inspired by the words of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. “In my research, I have found that the first Blacks to be brought to New York City were eleven Angolans in 1626. That makes people of African descent the second-oldest group of settlers in New Amsterdam, after the Dutch,” DeVille said on Madison Square Park’s website. “Unfortunately, history has erased the contributions and victories of this group. I want to make something that could honor their lives and question what it means to be a New Yorker, past, present, and future.”