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La Vaughn Belle: For Those of Us Who Live at the Shoreline

exhibition, visual art

September 21, 2020 - November 13, 2020

10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Brookfield Place New York (BFPL)
Winter Garden
230 Vesey Street
New York, NY 10821

For Those of Us Who Live at the Shoreline takes its title from the first line of Audre Lorde’s poem, “A litany for survival,” this newly commissioned large-scale vinyl artwork by artist La Vaughn Belle explores the relationship between the body, landscape, history, and memory. The topography depicted in the piece has been constructed by blending plant species that grow specifically near the coastline and function to both anchor and feed the soil. Species such as sea purslane, sea grape, manchineel, and mangroves are the keepers of boundary, constructing a kind of living archive from their roots systems which hold in the erosion of memory and time. They also protect, filter, and sometimes even poison, as part of dynamic marginal ecosystems. Belle’s work reminds us that for those who live at the shoreline—at the liminal spaces between subject and citizen—our survival is based on the crucial decisions of what remains rooted within us and what we know must wash away.

This piece is exhibited at Brookfield Place along with La Vaughn Belle’s other artwork, Chaney series (a topography of reconstruction), and are both topographies that deal with fragmentation and hybridization.

Curated by Kendal Henry for Brookfield Place. Henry is an artist and curator who has specialized in the field of public art for nearly thirty years, and the Director of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art Program.


La Vaughn Belle makes visible the unremembered. Borrowing from elements of architecture, history and archeology, Belle creates narratives that challenge colonial hierarchies and invisibility. Belle explores the material culture of coloniality, and her work presents counter visualities and narratives. Working in a variety of disciplines her practice includes painting, installation, photography, writing, video, and public interventions. Her work with colonial era pottery led to a commission with the renowned brand of porcelain products, Royal Copenhagen. Belle’s work has been exhibited in the Caribbean, the USA, and Europe, at institutions such as Museo del Barrio, New York, NY; the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, CA; Casa de las Americas, Cuba;  and Christiansborg Palace, Copenhagen, Denmark; among others. Her art is in the collections of the National Photography Museum and the Vestsjælland Museum, both in Denmark. She is the co-creator of “I Am Queen Mary”, the artist-led groundbreaking monument that confronted the Danish colonial amnesia while commemorating the legacies of resistance of the African people who were brought to the former Danish West Indies. The project was featured in over 100 media outlets around the world including The New York Times, Politiken, VICE, the BBC, and Le Monde. Belle holds an MFA from the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba and an MA and BA from Columbia University in New York, NY. As a 2018-2020 fellow at the Social Justice Institute at the Barnard Research Center for Women at Columbia University she is working on a project about the ‘citizenless’ Virgin Islanders in the Harlem Renaissance. Belle’s studio is based in the Virgin Islands.


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