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Double Dutch, sculpture by John Ahearn, Intervale Ave. and Kelly St.
Caption: Sculptors John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres made a sculpture of girls jumping Double Dutch and mounted it on a building in the South Bronx.
In the 1970s and 1980s in New York City, many Black and Latinx neighborhoods were impoverished and their residents were struggling. Some landlords decided they could make more money by burning down their buildings—where people had been living—than by renting them out to individuals and families. This led to many dangerous fires, especially in the South Bronx. Once the fires were put out, they left behind damaged buildings and piles of rubble. Nonetheless, there were families and children living, growing, and playing in these areas.1
Living and working in the Bronx at this time, sculptors John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres created plaster-cast portraits of Bronx residents. People from their neighborhood, from young children to older people, appear in Ahearn and Torres’ sculptures. The artists hoped to capture who Bronx residents were beyond the stereotypes that others held about the area, and in their regular lives, including moments of joy and tenderness.2
One of Ahearn and Torres’ sculptures featured girls jumping Double Dutch. The sculpture was mounted on a wall in the South Bronx, above a neighborhood playground.
Decade of Fire, directed by Vivian Vázquez Irizarry and Gretchen Hildebran (2019), PBS Independent Lens. ↩︎
The Bronx Museum of the Arts, “Family Guide/Guia para Familias: Swagger and Tenderness: The South Bronx Portraits of John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres,” 2023, https://bronxmuseum.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Swagger-and-Tenderness-Family-Guide.pdf. ↩︎
Date: ca. 1981-1982
Creator: Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Joe Conzo Jr. Archive
Source: Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Joe Conzo Jr. Archive
Copyright: Under copyright. Used with permission.
How to cite: “Double Dutch, sculpture by John Ahearn, Intervale Ave. and Kelly St.” Sculpture by John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres; photograph by Joe Conzo. “ca. 1981-1982”," in New York City Civil Rights History Project, Accessed: [Month Day, Year], https://nyccivilrightshistory.org/gallery/sculpture-by-john-ahearn.
- Why do you think Ahearn and Torres wanted to mount this sculpture on a building in the South Bronx? If you lived in the area, how do you think you would feel about the sculpture?
- What are joyful places in your neighborhood or community?
- How do your images and ideas of your community compare to how other people see it?
- What does joy feel like in your body? What kinds of activities feel joyful to you?