Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Parks Dept. Reverses Noose Sculpture Censorship Decision

The public will see the altered Stand Loud, Stand Tall sculpture by artist Aaron Bell today at its unveiling at 4:00 after the Parks Department  had censored it and refused to confer with the artist.  The agency  forced the African American artist to replace an important design feature with another if he wanted to be included in the year long exhibit in Riverside Park South. Mr. Bell replaced the original noose design (bottom) with back-to-back wide-open mouths made of mesh seen on top of the sculpture (above) and being installed on Tuesday  (below).

“I feel insulted and violated by the censorship of my art,” Mr. Bell stated at a community board meeting.     (Photos: Geoffey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) click on images to inlarge.

“It’s not what it’s supposed to be,” said Mr. Bell.    The sculpture can be found in Riverside Park South at W. 68th Street by the water. 


By Geoffrey Croft

The Parks Department has reversed its absurd noose sculpture censorship decision, NYC Park Advocates has learned. 

The about face came yesterday as a result of a meeting between artist Aaron Bell, Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel, Parks Department general counsel Alessandro Olivieri, Johnathan Kuhn, the agencys’ Art & Antiquities director, and Jennifer Lantzas, the deputy director of public art. 

The meeting occured at the Arsenal, the Parks Department headquarters on Fifth Avenue. 

It was agreed that Mr. Bell will be allowed to restore the original noose element which was an important feature of the original design. Mr. Bell will fabricate the piece in the next few weeks.   

“The NOOSE: In this context it is the embodiment of all forms of hate found in society,”  Mr. Bell wrote in his artist statement.  

“Hatred directed towards LGBT communities, religious communities, racial and ethnic communities. Hatred manifested by corrupt members of police departments and corrupt governments as well as hatred manifested by bullies and egocentric politicians.”   

According to an embarrassing statement released last week Parks Department spokesperson Sam Biederman, the sculpture couldn’t be in installed as designed by the artist out of “concerns” for people who do yoga, Pilates and senior movement programs, classes that are part of Summer On The Hudson series sponsored by the Parks Department and the Riverside Park Conservancy.

Mr.  Biederman began calling people last evening about the reversal.

The sculpture can be foundi in Riverside Park South at W. 68th Street along the water. 

A rendering of Arron Bell's original design which includes a noose on top. According a Parks Department statement issued last week the sculpture above - meant as a symbol against hatred and bigotry, and inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King - couldn’t be installed as designed by the artist out of "concerns" for people who do yoga, Pilates and senior movement programs.  

Read More:
The National Coalition Against Censorship

New York Times - May 27, 2016  - By Ginia Bellafante

New York Post - May 28, 2016  - By Melkorka Licea 

The West Side Rag -  May 18, 2016 - By Carol Tannenhauser


  1. I don't know which angers me more - the government wasting taxpayer money on such an ugly piece of art, or the government not having the guts to go through with it and unilaterally censoring it without even having the courage to state the real reason.

  2. I know what I think. That it's this kind of art that reveals just who Americans are who hide behind their anonymous hatred of all things Black Americans do.