Marsha P. Johnson
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Marsha P. Johnson
Public Art Opportunity – Call for Submissions
The family of Marsha P. Johnson, the City of Elizabeth, the County of Union, and Garden State Equality are proud to announce plans to honor Marsha P. Johnson with a public monument in her hometown, celebrating both her roots in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and her pivotal role in the vanguard of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.
Monuments are an important aspect of a city’s identity—they can honor historic moments or significant individuals, act as city emblems, or add a distinctive sense of place. The Marsha P. Johnson monument will be the first in the state of New Jersey to honor a member of the LGBTQ community and the first trans woman of color to be honored this way. This effort is a resolve by local elected officials and activists to line our streets with statues and monuments that represent all of America.
Profile of commissioning institution
The Marsha P. Johnson monument project is a vision of the family of Elizabeth native and LGBTQ rights activist Marsha P. Johnson. With the support of the City of Elizabeth, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Garden State Equality and generous donors this monument project will become a reality and stand as a symbol of LGBTQ influence in our American history’s fight for civil rights.
Marsha P. Johnson is perhaps best known as one of the main instigators of the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn, widely considered to be the event that kicked off the modern LGBTQ rights movement.
Johnson found joy as a successful self-made drag queen in Greenwich Village, infamous for her unique design and costume creation and touring the world with the drag theatre company Hot Peaches. She was a prominent fixture in the community, known as a “drag mother” helping homeless and struggling LGBTQ youth. After the Stonewall riots, Johnson and her friend Sylvia Rivera co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which provided services and shelter to homeless LGBTQ people in New York City, Chicago, California, and England throughout the early 1970s.
Johnson was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1945, and lived there until she graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School in 1963. After leaving home for a short stint in the Navy and then for New York, Johnson remained in constant communication with her family. She often returned home to Elizabeth for the holidays, inviting wayward people along the way to join her family for a hot meal, arriving with trinkets for her nieces and nephews and flowers for her mother.
The established site for the Marsha P. Johnson monument is specifically lot #8 along the Scott Park Freedom Trail, which is located approximately on the corner of Dickinson St and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, across the street from the Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy. The reserved site is a prominent public location in a walking park near Elizabeth City Hall. The City of Elizabeth guidelines for statue placement in Scott Park along Freedom Trail are as follows:
- The height of the proposed monument shall not exceed 10 feet in height as measured from the finished grade to the top of the monument.
- Design of fence surrounding the monument shall attempt to remain true to the iron fencing surrounding existing monuments along Freedom Trail.
- All perimeter fencing shall not exceed a height of three feet and four inches (3’-4”) as measured from finished grade to the top of the perimeter fence.
- The proposed footprint of the monument, fencing and any other permanent fixtures shall not exceed 12 feet by 12 feet area which is equal to 144 sq. ft. unless written permission is given by the Director of the Department of Public Works and/or their designee.
- The design of the monument shall include a base upon which a designed statue or bust shall be installed.
Artist shall have previous professional experience in sculpture artistry, and include documentation of previous work for reference in the proposal. The monument shall be constructed of durable material suitable to the outdoor environment, such as granite, bronze, copper, iron, limestone, marble or compatible materials. All materials should be enduring over elements of weather, time and require minimal maintenance. Knowledgeable persons qualified in the field of architecture and preservation/maintenance shall be consulted to determine structural soundness and durability and to assure that the commemorative work meets high professional standards.
The total budget for the project may range from $100,000 to $200,000 – this includes artist fee, production (including material from concept to creation), and installation of the monument.
The proposed timeline for this project is as follows:
- October 1 – December 15: design submissions (as a public park, the established location for the monument is accessible to artists for independent site visits as needed)
- December 15 – December 31: committee review and decision
- January 1 – January 31: final design development
- February 1 – May 31: fabrication
- June 1: installation
- June 28 (52nd anniversary of Stonewall Riots): dedication
Digital proposals must be submitted as one PDF file containing complete details of the proposed design concept. Proposals shall include: artist statement of intent, description of project, concept and approach, proposed schedule or timeline for design and fabrication, budget, site plan or analysis, schematic drawings or sketches, models or CAD presentations, material and maintenance proposals.
Submission Deadline and Contact
Artist submission deadline for the Marsha P. Johnson monument concept is December 15, 2020.
For more information contact Danni Newbury, Union County Office of LGBTQ Affairs at 908-527-4742, DNewbury@ucnj.org or visit ucnj.org/lgbtq.