American Icons is a collaborative project centering music and oral histories by Americans who live in the shadows cast by our national myths and monuments.
Whose stories are told, whose erased?
American Icons addresses the mythology behind the National Anthem and other outdated commemorative art. We create new, local musical monuments based on oral histories of NYC residents.
Student and community residents from Bronx Community College (BCC), the home of the “Hall of Fame of Great Americans,” will share their own experiences learning and working among monuments that fail to reflect America’s diversity. This project addresses the mythology behind the National Anthem and other outdated commemorative art. Questioning and deconstructing nationalistic artifacts from the past, we can create space to spotlight and honor stories of America’s present. We hope this will paint a more representative picture of the community we envision and celebrate in the Bronx.
We are grateful to our community partners at the University Height Presbyterian Church for hosting our May 2022 performance.
This project is made possible by a 2021 Social Practice CUNY Faculty Fellowship award.
Jazmin Ramirez is a student and former SGA president from Bronx Community College, where she is majoring in Business Administration with a focus on management. Jazmin is a first-generation American whose family is from the Dominican Republic and settled in the Bronx. She is currently a Baruch student studying Operation Management and Consulting, minoring in Communication Studies.
Renea Bush is an Elder member of University Heights Presbyterian Church, an affiliate of Bronx Presbyterian Church, where she is active in the community and actively engaged in the Friends of Aqueduct Walk, a group that collaborates with Partnership for Parks that seeks to protect, conserve, and engage the community in this public space, located across the street from the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, which is located on the Bronx Community College campus.
This past event at University Heights Presbyterian Church, saw the collected oral histories of BCC student and local Bronx community residents. Composers Shawn Chang and Jorell Williams, led by Nathaniel LaNasa and Gregory Feldmann, interweaved them with musical context from America’s past and present. It all culminated in an evening of music that questioned and deconstructed nationalistic artifacts from the past, while creating space that honors stories of America’s present. We hope this will paint a more representative picture of the community we envision and celebrate in the Bronx.
by Cynthia Tobar, Nathaniel LaNasa and Gregory Feldmann
In collaboration with our narrators Renea Bush and Jazmin Ramirez
Music composed by Jorell Williams and Shawn Chang
Oral histories/Storytelling by Cynthia Tobar
Performed by Nathaniel LaNasa and Gregory Feldmann