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First city statue depicting an African-American girl will stand in South Philadelphia park

Butterflies in History

First city statue depicting an African-American girl will stand in South Philadelphia park

By Michael D’Onofrio via

African-American girls soon will see themselves for the first time represented in a public statue in Philadelphia.

The only freestanding bronze statue depicting a Black girl in the city will come to Smith Playground in South Philadelphia this spring.

“It is representative of acknowledging the importance of women and girls, and the role that they have to play in our civic life and community life,” Public Art Director Margot Berg said.

The life-sized bronze statue will depict an African-American female athlete on the cusp of her teenage years playing basketball.

“I wanted to pick a pose that was both durable and interactive, but I’ve been thinking of it as a [basketball] guard at the top of a key,” said Brian McCutcheon, the 52-year-old Indianapolis-based artist who designed the statue. “That moment where you decide whether you drive or pass. … It’s a decisive moment.”

“The pose is meant to symbolize that decisive moment of that adolescent becoming an adult,” he added.

The statue will be placed on a low pedestal in the northwest corner of the park, where a meaningless metal pole now stands. Park-goers will be able to sit on the pedestal or climb onto it in order to inspect …

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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The image of the butterfly has come to define the many expressions of the feminine black consciousness and for a good reason. The butterfly is the perfect articulation of the exquisite beauty of nature. Whether tiny or large, brightly colored or more subdued, the butterfly’s allure is undeniable. Each one displays its own unique patterns and hues, and no one species outshines any other.

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