Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Concept Unveiled: Pillars of Diversity

Project Concept by Lead Teaching Artists Yvette Simone & Timothy Siciliano

 Pillars of Diversity
 at Thurgood Marshall Elementary

In Summer 2015, twenty-four diverse youth will work with three professional public artists to create a permanent art installation on the Martin Luther King Jr. Way frontage of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School. The work will celebrate Thurgood Marshall’s pivotal work towards equal justice under the law for all people as the first black Supreme Court Justice during the civil-rights movement.

Lead artists Yvette Simone and Timothy Siciliano have conceived the project as a symbolic depiction of equal justice under the law for people of every race, creed or color. Its five stately 10-foot pillars evoke not only the Supreme Court but also broader associations of justice and education. The contrasting colors and overlaid circles spreading up the pillars from the steps below are an evocation both of the diversity of our nation’s people and the energetic optimism of youth.

In the first week of workshops, the 24 Hit the Streets youth will work with poet Daemond Arrindell to express their own feelings about Thurgood Marshall and his work in poetic form. The youth will learn the color theory of Josef Albers – how to use context and contrast to great effect – and will apply colored glazes to ceramic disks on which their poems have been rendered. Those disks will be inset into the cement steps and column bases. Some of the youth will work in Coyote’s metal shop to fabricate the capitals at the top of each steel column, and all youth will paint the columns – both the trompe l’oeuil of the black/white/gray upper columns and the circles of varying diameters and colors along their lower half.

The end steps of the piece will feature plaques with quotations from Thurgood Marshall himself. On one end will be a timeline of civil rights people and events from across the United States, and on the other end will be a timeline of prominent civil-rights leaders and actions in the city of Seattle. The 24 young artists will be acknowledged with a plaque as well.

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