The need to repair, improve, and some would say beautify America’s aging infrastructure, helped U.S. President Joe Biden score some major political points with the passage of his $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in November 2021. It will be a while before the majority of Americans get to experience actual physical results of the accomplishment and come to fully appreciate what it means.
The power of art, however, is such that it allows creatives like Lady Pink, Banksy, and Eduardo Kobra to apply their particular visions of future possibilities for public architectures more immediately. Even public areas subject to war can function as art installations which convey messages more aligned with hope and beauty.
The henry Street underpass in Savannah, Georgia, is a very unique feature of the city’s infrastructure. Its solid design appears more than capable of continuing for years to support the freight cars which rumble across the rail tracks above it nearly every day. The walls of the underpass have also long proven an ideal space for various visual artists to express themselves. I have not been as bold as some to place images directly on the walls of the underpass, but the structure has inspired creative efforts by me more than once.
The first time I shared the story of my enduring interest in the Henry Street underpass was in June 2018 when I completed work on two fine art photographs: “Henry Street Underpass Number 1 and Number 2.” With those images, I mostly wanted to document what stood out for me as the passageway’s amazing design largely defined by giant steel X’s. I had walked through it many times as a child but only much later, after leaving and returning for extended stays, did it strike me as something extraordinary.
More recently, I wondered what it might look like to utilize the space as the setting for an art installation. The prospect was an unlikely one to attempt on the street itself but completely doable as reimaginings presented on a mixed-media canvas. With that in mind, I have been able to produce a series of "Henry Street Underpass Art Portal” art pieces. A detail from Number 1 is seen above. Two complete images are now available for purchase on Fine Art America.com and Pixels.com.
It is obvious that art cannot accomplish the kind of work which machinery and engineering will over the next few years as different types of infrastructures are reinforced, or completely replaced. What it can do is help us remember that notions of progress do not have to come at the expense of beauty or mindfulness in our lives. In fact, each can help enhance the valued purpose of the other.
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Explore Black Music Month at Bright Skylark Literary Productions
Note: To read part 1 of this article please click here. Part 2 begins now:
U.S. President Joe Biden said in his official response to Tyre Nichols’ death: “It is yet another painful reminder of the profound fear and trauma, the pain, and the exhaustion that Black and Brown Americans experience every single day… Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again…”
Few people will argue with that. But, clearly, the protests which follow such atrocities have not been sufficient enough to change a culture in which police and would-be vigilantes so often, so quickly, dismiss the validity of a Black person’s life. Neither has the U.S. Congress’ tepid response to them.
In an interview with Lawrence O’Donnell for MSNBC, Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Cast, the Origins of Our Discontents, offered this comment:
“…The Tyre Nichols situation, tragedy, allows us to see that we have all been exposed to, we all have been programmed to see who is held at the very top of a hierarchy going back to the time of colonial America. And then who has been assigned at the very bottom…”
Like Wilkerson, a growing number of people consider “the idea of race” as nothing more than “an arbitrary construction.” Therefore: observable physical characteristics, cultural markers such as regional languages and dialects, and histories of nations and communities where the American experience is concerned: should be considered less relevant, or consequential, than many until now have believed.
A Different Kind of Black on Black Crime
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.