Queens Centers for Progress (QCP) will mark Juneteenth on Monday with the unveiling of a sculpture on its seven-acre Bellerose campus.
The federal holiday commemorates the June 19, 1865 date in American history when enslaved people in Galveston, Texas learned that they were nearly two and half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Gina Jean-Baptist has been a staff member at QCP for more than 30 years working in the Residential Program making sure the people with intellectual disabilities, whom the agency supports, are well cared for and kept safe. Her brother is renowned sculptor Tristan Cassamajor and Jean-Baptist asked him to create a work of art to honor her staff and the individuals in QCP’s programs in honor of Juneteenth.
Cassamajor compiled and created a four-foot-tall artwork, carved over a period of five days while her brother was in town visiting from Belgium, where he resides. The dark green granite sculpture will be unveiled by QCP’s executive director Terri Ross and at 10 a.m. following remarks from local elected officials who are expected to attend the event on the Bellerose campus at 249-16 Grand Central Pkwy.
“We are incredibly moved by Gina and Tristan Cassamajor’s gift particularly as we celebrate Juneteenth,” Ross said. “This stunning piece of artwork will forever remind us of the fight for freedom and inclusion and that fight for equality still continues to this day.”
Cassamajor is one of the most “unique and exciting voices in contemporary monumental sculpture,” according to the Maison Garrard website Gallery.
“His use of African themes juxtaposed with a classical sense of space and traditional sculpting practices creates pieces which are both physically impressive and thought-provoking,” according to Gallery. “His career has taken him across three continents, and his work is a fixture in both public institutions and in the private art market.”
The sculpture will remain permanently in front of the very house where Jean-Baptist works as a Direct Support Professional for QCP, which has served the Queens community for more than 70 years providing person-centered services and supports to children and adults who have developmental disabilities. The organization’s goals are to promote independence, community involvement, and quality of life.
For more information visit the QCP website here.