Jerome Haferd, who leads BRANDT : HAFERD, a local public art and architecture practice, with K. Brandt Knapp and teaches at CCNY as an assistant professor at the Bernard & Anne Spitzer School of Architecture, has designed Sankofa, a new installation for Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park. The work references Akan African folklore and displays the “mythology” of Marcus Garvey Park using digitally composed layers of archival images, along with other Harlem inspired motifs.
Sankofa is the first of several installations funded by the Mellon Foundation as a part of the Culture, Creativity, & Care Initiative at Marcus Garvey Park led by Harlem Grown, a nonprofit dedicated to educating youth on living healthy and sustainably.
Haferd worked alongside the community and took in their input to create the piece. BRANDT : HAFERD is a Harlem-based studio with a portfolio of projects that span domestic, workplace, and the urban spheres. Its work has garnered recognition and several awards, including the inaugural 2012 Folly competition held by the Architectural League of New York and Zero Threshold Design Competition’s grand prize for the office’s project SIDE by SIDE in 2019. The name Sankofa is derived from Akan African folklore and means “in order to know our future we must look to our past.”
The piece draws on African, Afro-Caribbean, and Indigenous craft traditions and places them within the context, everyday life, and histories of Harlem. The installation consists of a 32 foot–wide circle structured used a modular system and fabricated with reusable materials so that it may be reconfigured for future uses and sites. Beneath a fabric mesh canopy, a gathering space is where the ”mythology”—archival photographs of Marcus Garvey Park and other Harlem-related motifs—are proudly displayed. Visitors can pass through to observe a rotating art gallery on the interior, where the work of numerous local artists will be shown over the course of the summer.
Haferd is the lead public installation designer for the 2023–24 Marcus Garvey Park Culture, Creativity, and Care Initiative with Harlem Grown. The initiative plans to open more installations throughout the summers of 2023 and 2024.
The grand opening of Sankofa will be held on Sunday, June 18, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Marcus Garvey Park.