Destination Crenshaw, a nonprofit working to create a 1.3-mile outdoor museum that highlights the arts and contributions of Black Angelenos, announced Wednesday the first seven of 100 artists to sign onto the project, including Kehinde Wiley.
The $100 million project will be built along Crenshaw Boulevard, near the upcoming Crenshaw/LAX Line.
Along with Wiley — who is best known for painting President Barack Obama’s official presidential portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery — artists Charles Dickson, Melvin Edwards, Maren Hassinger, Artis Lane, Alison Saar and Brenna Youngblood were chosen to create permanent sculptures that will be displayed in Sankofa Park, the northernmost public gathering place on the route.
The seven artists’ designs will be submitted in October for review by the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Commission.
“Destination Crenshaw is a community-led project, initiated in the conviction that residents of one of the world’s largest and most creative Black neighborhoods deserve to live in a beautiful, green, artistically impressive and economically strong environment,” Jason W. Foster, president and chief operating officer of Destination Crenshaw, said in a statement.
“As we move toward submitting the first designs to the city, we are committed to creating a permanent place for Black people in Los Angeles. We look forward to strengthening the connection between the community and these exceptional artists, all of whom have been, in some way, nurtured and inspired by the Crenshaw neighborhood.”
The nonprofit chose artists who have connections to South Los Angeles. Wiley was born in Los Angeles and grew up in South Central. When he was 17 years old, he was chosen to participate in the Metro Young Artists program. He is the first Black artist to paint a presidential portrait.
Dickson was also born in Los Angeles and is an artist-in-residence at the Watts Towers Art Center. He creates intricate carvings in wood and metal that represent the African diaspora.
Melvin Edwards attended high school in Los Angeles and then studied at USC and the Otis College of Art and Design. He started his studio in Crenshaw in 1963 and has had his work exhibited around the world for more than 50 years.
Maren Hassinger grew up in Leimert Park and has worked with sculputure, performance and installation alongside other Black Los Angeles artists like Senga Nengudi, Ulysses Jenkins, Houston Conwill and David Hammons.
Artis Lane was born in Canada but has lived and worked in South Los Angeles for more than three decades. She has a sculpture of Sojourner Truth, which was commissioned by the National Congress of Black Women, displayed at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington and a sculpture of Rosa Parks is in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.
Alison Saar was born in Los Angeles and studied at Scripps College and the Otis College of Art and Design. She is best known for her sculptures, which are part of the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Brenna Youngblood lives in the Crenshaw District and was born in Riverside in 1979. She studied at Cal State Long Beach and UCLA. Her works are part of collections at the Hammer, LACMA, the Museum of Contemporary Art LA, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum, Fundación/Colección Jumex in Mexico City and The Studio Museum in Harlem and more.
Destination Crenshaw is being funded by individual donors, philanthropic organization and corporate entities along with state, local and federal government dollars. California’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget included $6.5 million for the project.