Lewes commission looking into permanent artwork

Deinstallation of temporary piece prompts conversation
November 19, 2022

At the base of Rose DeSiano’s Absent Monuments in George H.P. Smith Park this summer were tiles containing images of marginalized groups from Lewes’ history. African Americans, Native Americans and shipbuilders from the Zwaanendael community were some of the lives glimpsed upon on the temporary sculptures.

Unfortunately, DeSiano said the composition of the tiles prevents their preservation after Lewes residents inquired about keeping them following their removal in October.

The monuments were installed on a temporary basis by the Lewes Public Art Committee. The works were designed to be observed from the spring until early fall; and the artist never had an obligation to return the tiles or construct them to withstand longer than the contracted months.

The committee installs temporary pieces of art each year on public land in an effort to educate residents and visitors about art and its relationship to the First Town in the First State. For the monuments, DeSiano used photographs found by Trina Brown-Hicks depicting what life was like for minority groups throughout the city’s history. Brown-Hicks was one of the first to wonder about preserving the tiles.

During the Oct. 20 Lewes African American Heritage Commission meeting, Brown-Hicks, who is a commissioner, informed the group of the tiles’ fate. While the outcome wasn’t in their favor, the Rev. Deborah McCaffity, vice chair, praised the idea of preserving the tiles. Brown-Hicks added that the commission receives a budget and could consider planning for a permanent piece. 

To that end, McCaffity requested members of the commission look further into the idea of commissioning a permanent piece. Brown-Hicks noted that if they were to place anything in the parks, it would need to go through the parks and recreation commission and public art committee. Commissioners agreed they could look into other locations outside of the parks as well. DeSiano is willing to work with Lewes to fabricate a permanent piece at cost. 


Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter