Sen. Ryan Unveils Concept By Local Artist Selected To Design Shirley Chisholm Statue

Local Artist Julia Bottoms Selected to Design Statue Honoring Trailblazing Politician at Forest Lawn Cemetery

State Senator Sean Ryan announced that local artist Julia Bottoms has been selected to design a statue honoring the late Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm, who is entombed in Forest Lawn’s Cemetery’s Birchwood Mausoleum, made history as the first Black woman to serve in the United States Congress and the first to run for president. The statue will be installed near the mausoleum this fall.

Julia Bottoms Concept Design of Shirley Chisholm for Forthcoming Sculpture in Buffalo NY

Bottoms’ concept is designed to evoke emotion and inspire reflection through a series of elements that reference Chisholm’s life and legacy. It features Chisholm standing before a podium adorned with the 1972 Democratic National Convention’s seal, with her hand raised high in the air displaying a peace sign. On the side of the podium is a plaque featuring Chisholm’s famous quote: “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” Propped against the side of the podium is a folding chair, providing a symbolic reference to the quote.

The steering committee guiding the creation of the statue announced a call for proposals for the sculpture in October 2021.

A Buffalo native, Bottoms studied at the University at Buffalo, earning a bachelor’s degree in Art and a master’s degree in Multidisciplinary Fine Arts Studies. She currently serves as an artist-in-residence at Albright-Knox Northland.

This public initiative will demonstrate Shirley Chisholm’s incredible legacy to the entire Western New York community and beyond. The statue will help to convey who Ms. Chisholm was and what she meant; both to Buffalo and to the entire country. The statue will capture her legacy, her impact on our community, and her demonstration that women – particularly Black women – are capable of anything; even (and especially) if it has never been done before.

 Steering Committee members for the project include:

 • April Baskin – Erie County Legislature Chair

• Ruth D. Bryant – Chair of the Communities of Giving Legacy Initiative at the Community Foundation For Greater Buffalo

  Dr. Barbara A. Seals Nevergold – Founder of the Uncrowned Queens Institute  •Melissa Brown – Executive Director of the Buffalo History Museum

• Joseph Dispenza – President of Forest Lawn Cemetery

    Zainab Saleh – Program Coordinator for Partnership for the Public Good