ASHLAND – In the spring, the Say Their Names collective issued a call to black artists for proposals for a permanent art installation, bringing in four submissions. Two proposals went through a community voting phase and were submitted Wednesday to the Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission, which will oversee the design and installation of any artwork on APRC property.
The art installation was originally proposed to supplant or add to the ‘Say Their Names’ memorial along the Railroad Park fence – erected in response to the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police in May 2020.
Micah BlackLight proposed a winged figure sculpture to be placed in Railroad Park or Ashland Creek Park, titled “The Ancestor’s Future: Crystallizing Our Call”.
BlackLight has indicated a preference for placement at Ashland Creek Park as a means of establishing “identity” in the space, and in recognition of the HUB sculpture approved for installation at Railroad Park this fall.
The stainless steel and ferris sculpture proposed by BlackLight alludes to angels, ancestors and those in touch with greater understanding, he said. The domed wings protect the figure “from the arrows and figurative stones of classism, racism, division and hatred”, as well as from inclement weather.
An open space in the character’s chest allows the viewer to see across the mountains and sky and represents boundless love, he said. A half-ring of stepping stones in front would invite the viewer to share the space with the character, to take a moment of introspection or to meditate. Decorating the stones could be a community activity, he said.
“Some may even see him as the spirit of George Floyd, whose death proved to be an incredibly galvanizing spark to so many, that he could come back as a more understanding being, paving the way for a better life,” paved by her death, ”said BlackLight.
Courtesy Image | Micah BlackLight proposed a winged figure sculpture to be placed in Railroad Park or Ashland Creek Park, titled “The Ancestor’s Future: Crystallizing Our Call”.
A book on the character’s lap represents responsibility for what happened and continues to be written, with the names of Blacks and Browns dedicated to ending cycles of violence and those lost to police brutality. , did he declare. The book would open on three sides.
“He looks to the future that awaits hope, while letting us know that he will not forget and that he is not blind to the trials we will face in our quest for that future – he does there are no rose-colored glasses, ”BlackLight said.
BlackLight has listed collaborators for the proposed sculpture project, including a master sculptor, a local manufacturing company, and a silversmith.
“Because it involves curiosity, because it engages the viewer, it would serve as an invitation into the park,” he said. “Sit on the grass and enjoy the energy and space of the park instead of being something you are staring at.”
As part of the community engagement component that the collective specified as critical, the audience could help draft a statement of intent for the inscription on the sculpture, BlackLight said.
Jerryck “JRoc” Murrey proposed a sculpture consisting of four nine-foot wooden dominoes and a seated viewing area at Ashland Creek Park, celebrating black culture’s journey through American history and emphasizing the value of cultural contributions “despite systemic challenges”.
“[Playing dominoes] is often a time when the community orients around each other, comes together and it’s a jovial experience, ”said Murrey. “This contrasts starkly with the larger statement of ‘falling like dominoes’.”
In 1930, a law prohibited blacks and whites from playing dominoes or checkers together in Birmingham, Alabama.
“African-American leisure activities have often included table games like checkers, dominoes, auction whist and the like,” according to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. “[The games] brought groups and families together, making it a threat to the Jim Crow South. “
Courtesy Image | Jerryck “JRoc” Murrey proposed a sculpture consisting of four nine-foot solid wood dominoes and a seated viewing area at Ashland Creek Park, celebrating black culture’s journey through American history and highlighting the value cultural contributions “despite systemic challenges”.
The orientation of the dominoes somewhat mimics Stonehenge, “highlighting the disparity within the ancestral journey to America,” Murrey wrote in the project proposal.
Pedestrian traffic to the nearby skate park and community garden makes Ashland Creek Park an ideal link for sculpture, with fewer obstacles to installation compared to other sites in the city, he said. declared.
The numbers on the dominoes further illustrate the message – three in five represent a time when enslaved people were counted as three-fifths of a person under Article One, Section Two of the U.S. Constitution, for example.
Murrey offered to burn one of the dominoes in a controlled environment to char it as a community event to go along with the installation, to protect the wood from insects and rot, and add a layer of fire protection, did he declare. A resin would cover the three unburned dominoes.
“[The controlled burn] would represent a vigil for lost lives and a way for the community to reflect, and would also create a presentation art that the community can best be complicit in, ”said Murrey.
“Charred wood would symbolize that even when a community is involved in shared traumatic experiences, through fire we can become stronger and more united,” he wrote. “In this sense, fire is metaphorical to trials that serve to change physical properties and make the elements stronger. “
A panel of members of the black community will vote to select a permanent art installation design in January, before submitting the selection to the Public Arts Commission, said Jessica Freedman, leader of the Say Their Names collective.
APRC took into account maintenance, safety and durability for both proposals.
“I am delighted that Ashland Creek Park appears to be a viable option for this project,” said Commissioner Mike Gardiner. “It seems to be more appropriate from my point of view due to the lack of other competing artwork in the park… and I would love to take my grandchildren and explore either. another of those pieces on the way to the playing field. “