Rapper Heavy D Will Be Honored with a 20-Foot Sculpture in Mount Vernon


By the end of the year, a 20-foot-tall sculpture honoring rapper Heavy D will be perched in one of Mount Vernon, New York’s most prominent locations.

ArtsWestchester awarded Brooklyn College Professor Eto Otitigbe a commission to build the $100,000 sculpture to not only honor the late rapper — who grew up in Mount Vernon — but to give the city a “visual representation of its own culture and heritage.”

It’s an opportunity for people who live in Mount Vernon, in Westchester, in New York, and really the whole world to come and learn about the city, about Heavy D, and hip-hop music,” Otitigbe says. “It’s a site for people to reflect on all those things.”

Otitigbe says he came up with the idea for the sculpture in the spring of 2019 after learning about the commission. ArtsWestchester, an organization that provides cultural programming throughout Westchester county, was approached by Alexander Development Group to help organize a public commission.  The artwork would be located outside of a new condominium project by Alexander Development Group. In that effort, the group wanted to include public artwork. With that, ArtsWestchester put out a national call for artists.

A year later, Otitigbe learned he was chosen from a large pool of artists for the commission. 

“I was thrilled. This is my first solo, public, permanent commission. So this is a big step for me professionally,” he says.

He named the sculpture Peaceful Journey after the rapper’s 1991 hit of the same name. The sculpture is expected to be complete and on display by December. 

“The sculpture takes the form of an archway that’s emerging from the ground, to suggest something transformative. Perhaps your experience with the work will be one that’s transformative. You can look up through the archway as it pixelates the sky,” Otitigbe explains.

“Trying to turn the theme of transformation into something physical is where I started with this project.”

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Peaceful Journey
ArtsWestchester - Eto Otitigbe, 2020

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Eto Otitigbe (Professor, Art) | Profile 1

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Brooklyn College