The late theatrical visionary Lorraine Hansberry used her artistry as a form of activism; creating plays that were reflective of the human condition and provided a lens into the Black experience in America. A statue that pays homage to the trailblazing playwright’s life and legacy has risen in Washington, D.C., The Washington Informer reported.
The bronze sculpture, titled “To Sit a While,” is nestled on Howard University’s campus in front of the Chadwick Boseman College of Fine Arts Building. Designed by Los Angeles sculptor and mixed-media artist Alison Saar, the statue depicts Hansberry sitting down with a circle of chairs around her. Each chair symbolizes a chapter of her life. It’s part of a traveling exhibition being led by the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative; a project designed to amplify Hansberry’s contributions to the arts and empower generations of artistic innovators who are following in her footsteps by providing them with scholarship opportunities.
Hansberry—a South Side Chicago native—created the poignant play A Raisin in the Sun which became the first stage play penned by a Black woman to be featured on Broadway. For the play—which delved into the journey of a working-class family navigating life during the Jim Crow era—she pulled inspiration from individuals from her community in Chicago and Langston Hughes’ poem “Harlem.” The powerful production garnered her a New York Critics’ Circle award for best play, making her the youngest person to receive the honor.
Hansberry’s transformative work explored the concepts of race, class, sexuality, LGBT rights, and women’s equality. She passed away in 1965 at the age of 34, but her legacy lives on through projects like the “To Sit a While” statue.
“I invite you to take a seat,” Saar said in a statement. “Congregate with friends to read poems or sing songs of resistance. Gather with strangers to share ideas and dreams. Come alone and be inspired by the brilliance of Lorraine Hansberry. Be inspired to find your own brilliance, be inspired to contribute to the Lorraine Hansberry Initiative to support women and non-binary artists of color, gift them the time and the space…to sit a while and think.”
The sculpture will be on view at Howard through November 30 and will make stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, and Chicago.
The traveling exhibition comes a year after Hansberry’s former New York City home was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
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