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Five artist finalists announced for King Memorial

June 8, 2018

Arts and Culture

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Arts and Culture

The memorial project honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King has also been expanded to include an outdoor memorial on the Boston Common.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and MLK Boston today announced the memorial project honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King has been expanded to include an outdoor memorial on the Boston Common, a high-tech, immersive educational experience in Dudley Square at a location to be announced, and plans for an endowment for King-related programming developed with Roxbury's Twelfth Baptist Church. This expansion is the result of community feedback received during 14 public meetings held in neighborhoods across Boston.

In addition to engaging with the community, the City of Boston and MLK Boston issued an international call for artists for the memorial in December. The City received 126 submissions from local and international artists and teams, and after careful review, the MLK Boston Art Committee has selected five finalists. As finalists, these five artists and teams will develop design proposals that will be made available for public comment in September at a location to be announced.

"The public has been instrumental by sharing their feedback, ideas and hopes for the memorial, and I want to thank everyone that has contributed to this process," said Mayor Walsh. "By expanding the reach of this memorial from Roxbury to the Boston Common, we are elevating the Kings' living legacy for residents and visitors across Boston in a way that has never been done before. I'm confident that these five artists have the knowledge, experience, and talent to use feedback from the community to create a world-class memorial that honors the Kings' impact on the City and beyond."

"It is vitally important that this memorial is accessible to the people of Boston. Dr. King dedicated his life to fighting for civil rights, racial equity, and economic justice, so it is fitting to have Dudley Square, in the heart of Roxbury, as a location for this memorial, in addition to the Boston Common," said City Councilor Kim Janey. "This will add to the vibrancy of this cultural and economic center. I commend the artists on being named finalists, and I look forward to seeing this tribute honoring Dr. King's legacy."

The memorial will commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s years in Boston, as well as the public philosophies of Dr. King, and the legacy of his work around the world. In addition, a key goal of the memorial is to serve as a call to action that compels the community to confront racial and economic inequality, discrimination and other relevant social justice issues. It is also intended to reflect Coretta Scott King's faith in the power of art, and her struggles against militarism, poverty, discrimination, racism, and sexism.

"We are humbled by the outpouring of interest in this project, as well as the quality of all of the artists' submissions," said Robin Powell Mandjes, Executive Director of MLK Boston. "The artist selection process reflects input that we've received from across the city, across communities, and across constituencies. We could not be more pleased with this outstanding group of finalists."

The five finalists selected to develop design proposals include:

Barbara Chase-Riboud has been creating abstract art for over 50 years, and has developed her own particular innovation on the bronze sculpture method by creating thin sheets of wax that she could bend, fold, meld, or sever to produce large-scale sculptures comprised of ribbons of bronze and aluminum. She later added fiber to these metal elements to create some of her most renowned works - among which were a group of 20 sculptures memorializing Malcolm X and his transformation "from a convict to a world leader." Chase-Riboud has been the recipient of numerous awards and honorary degrees, including a Doctorate of Fine Arts from Temple University (1981), the Women's Caucus for Art Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association (2007), and the Tannie Award in the Visual Arts in Paris (2013). Her work has also been exhibited at numerous institutions worldwide. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery has represented Barbara Chase-Riboud since 2014. The gallery supports her application and will offer project management throughout the commission.

Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, architect David Adjaye's broad range of influences, ingenious use of materials, and sculptural ability have established him as an architect with an artist's sensibility and vision. His largest project to date, the $540 million Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. was named Cultural Event of the Year by the New York Times. Artist Adam Pendleton is known for his conceptual practice, which encompasses painting, sculpture, writing, film, and performance. He integrates writings by Malcolm X, John Ashbery, Gertrude Stein, and others, and also incorporates the language of civil rights and social justice movements throughout his work, including the phrase "Black Lives Matter" in his installation at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Future\Pace is an international cultural partnership between Pace Gallery and FutureCity innovating multidisciplinary projects for art in the public realm. Established in 2016 by Futurecity founder Mark Davy, Pace London President Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, and Pace worldwide CEO Marc Glimcher, Future\Pace draws on combined expertise in curating large-scale collaborative, multidisciplinary artworks through an extensive global network of contemporary artists, galleries, and resources.

Hank Willis Thomas is a conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. His work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad, including the International Center of Photography, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Thomas' work is in numerous public collections including the Museum of Modern Art New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. He is also the recipient of the 2017 Soros Equality Fellowship and the 2017 AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize. MASS Design Group designs built environments that seek to improve people's lives in measurable ways and are infused by the potential to promote justice and human dignity. Based in Boston and Kigali, Rwanda, MASS forces the building process to engage with end stakeholders, and become a catalyst for hope and change in physical space. The MASS portfolio of work includes architectural design, master planning, landscape architecture, engineering, and research.

Wodiczko+Bonder is a partnership established in 2003 and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts by artist and professor Krzysztof Wodiczko and architect and professor Julian Bonder. Wodiczko + Bonder focuses on art and design projects that engage public space and raise the issues of social memory, survival, and struggle and emancipation related to urban and domestic violence, war and post war trauma, immigration and global displacement, the Holocaust and genocides, the Desaparecidos (in Argentina), the Civil War, and historical and present day slavery. The partnership's experience ranges from temporary work such as design of participatory projections on monument and communicative urban equipment to design of residential, cultural and civic buildings, institutes, museums, memorials and commemorative public spaces. Maryann Thompson Architects (MTA) is a Cambridge-based architecture firm that specializes in architecture that is sustainable, regionally driven and that attempts to heighten the phenomenological qualities of the site in which they work. The firm has received three AIA National Honor Awards and numerous AIA New England Design Honor Awards and BSA Honor Awards for Design Excellence.

Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art, first at Byam School of Art and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA. Shonibare's work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions. His trademark material is the brightly coloured 'African' batik fabric, which is a symbol of African identity and independence. Shonibare was a Turner prize nominee in 2004, and was also awarded the decoration of Member of the 'Most Excellent Order of the British Empire' or MBE, a title he has added to his professional name. Shonibare was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta 11, Kassel, in 2002 to create his most recognised work 'Gallantry and Criminal Conversation' that launched him on to an international stage. Shonibare's works are included in prominent collections internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands.

Each of the five finalists will receive a $10,000 stipend from MLK Boston for developing design proposals. The City will announce the final artist selection in November.