About the Exhibition
Celebrating the life of one of New York’s most significant jazz musicians and composers, Charles Mingus, Tyrone Mitchell’s towering bronze sculpture portrays a chair on top of an elongated pedestal, floating “in the sky.” It is sited in a backdrop with another great work of public art, the Statue of Liberty. To Mitchell (b.1944, Savannah, Georgia), the chair refers to many aspects of African-American heritage, from Ghanian throne forms to the first “chair” in an orchestra to the name of a Mingus piece. He also considers the work to be an homage to the improvisational performer he so admires and a tribute to the significant impact that African-Americans have had on American culture.
Mitchell explains, “African-American music has had a seminal influence on American culture and creativity. It was an important inspiration to artists like Jackson Pollock, Adolf Gottleib, and others who created the expressionist movement. The artists and writers of the Harlem renaissance, most importantly Langston Hughes, forged their creations around its cadences.
“In celebrating Mingus, a major force in this music, I am seeking to address the germinating energy that has created a legacy of ideas, reflections and dreams, and a continuing forum for universal expression.
“I approached the symbol of the chair in a purposefully low-tech manner in order to emphasize the input of folk traditions which continue to nourish our culture and renew our identities.”