About the Exhibition
Through her installation Whitman Raised, Amy Hauft (USA) pays tribute to one of Brooklyn’s most historic residents, Walt Whitman. Cadman Plaza Park was selected as the site because of the historical significance of the neighborhood. In 1856, Whitman published his first edition of Leaves of Grass at the Andrew and James Rome Print Shop, located at what was once 98 Cranberry Street, near the park.
On fifteen signs, mounted on every other tree along the row of sycamores that lines Cadman Plaza West, Hauft has reprinted excerpts from the poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Whitman’s famous ode to Brooklyn. Hauft has employed a sign system that emulates the historic neighborhood signs used by the New York Landmarks Commission. Instead of informing us about the architecture and past events, Whitman Raised compels us to reflect upon the former presence of an individual. As visitors stroll through the park, they will encounter the signs and slowly piece together the lines of the poem. The final sign contains a map of Cadman Plaza Park and Brooklyn Heights, marking the site where Whitman first published Leaves of Grass.
James Clark, Executive Director of the Public Art Fund, says, “Hauft’s piece suggests to us how the poem may have come into being. Perhaps as Whitman walked the same streets and viewed the same river and sky, the poem was formed line by line, phrase by phrase, in response to what he saw and experienced in Brooklyn.” Hauft states that “there is something intimate about breathing the same air in the same place as such a person. Whitman stands for the gorgeous sensate American. Whitman was a Brooklynite. There is something enormously promising about that fact.”