Faculty Work
December 9, 2022

AAP Professor and Art Chair Paul Ramírez Jonas to Create Work for the National Mall

The new public art initiative Beyond Granite invites artists to explore what it means to imagine, build, live, and grow with monuments.

AAP Communications

Collage of images from the history of the national mall.

image / Monument Lab

What stories remain untold on the National Mall?

Six artists, including Paul Ramírez Jonas, Chair of the Department of Art and Professor at Cornell University's College of Art, Architecture, and Planning, have been invited to create largescale artworks addressing this question as part of the inaugural exhibition of Beyond Granite, a new public art initiative launching in Washington, DC this summer.

Curated by Monument Lab's Paul Farber and Salamishah Tillet, Pulling Together is the first show in the planned series and will also feature the work of artists Derrick Adams, Tiffany Chung, Ashon Crawley, vanessa german, and Wendy Red Star.

Five adults standing on the steps in front of a large white marble building

An artist visit to the National Mall with Salamishah Tillet, cocurator of "Pulling Together," Paul Ramirez Jonas, Vanessa German, Ashon Crawley, and Paul Farber, cocurator and director of Monument Lab. image / Monument Lab

Ramírez Jonas, whose creative practice focuses on interdisciplinary and socially engaged art, print media, public art, and sculpture, says he finds power in sharing the space with these other creative minds. "It allows me to focus on what I do best for a situation, not just what the site needs the most," he explains.

Though he is no stranger to presenting his public art projects to a broad audience, this venue's high-profile position does have him reflecting on his process. "I tend to work iteratively and rarely go out into public space with an artwork that's participatory that I haven't tried out at a smaller scale first," he notes. "I'm trying to think of previous interactive projects as rehearsals to this. I want a solid foundation, based on experience, because I really can't imagine a more prominent pedestal to propose a monument than the Mall." 

Learn more about how Washington, DC, is reimagining monuments and civic engagement in America's most iconic public square. Produced by the Mellon Foundation in collaboration with the Trust for the National Mall, the National Parks Service, the National Capital Planning Commission, Monument Lab, and Justice & Sustainability Associates.

"These artists represent a set of vibrant and essential lived experiences," said Salamishah Tillet, co-curator of the exhibition and Professor of Africana Studies at Rutgers University–Newark. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with them — and we can't wait for their brilliance to bring vital new meaning to our nation's most iconic commemorative landscape."

Beyond Granite is generously supported by the Mellon Foundation and is presented by the Trust for the National Mall in partnership with the National Capital Planning Commission and the National Park Service.


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