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News: Atlanta one of 12 finalists for Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge

Freedom Park is the site for the city's proposed public art project.
Freedom Park is the site for the city's proposed public art project.
Freedom Park is the site for the city’s proposed public art project.

The City of Atlanta has been named one of 12 finalists in the running to receive up to $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. This new program will support “innovative temporary public art projects that address a civic concern, and demonstrate close collaboration between artists or arts organizations and city government.”

The proposal, submitted by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, is sited in Freedom Park. It centers on a series of 7 to 10 colorful crystalline structures by artist Xenobia Bailey installed between Boulevard and Highland Avenue. They would address the contributions of women, famous and unsung, to the civil rights movement, according to Camille Love, executive director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs.

Work by Xenobia Bailey, who is the lead artist in the city's proposal for Freedom Park
Work by Xenobia Bailey, who is the lead artist in the city’s proposal for Freedom Park.

Four local artists will also be invited to develop art projects that “highlight Atlanta’s legacy of advancing freedom, encouraging interaction among viewers, and promoting dialogue about contemporary civil rights issues.” How they will be chosen is not yet worked out.

The plan, created with Spelman College Museum of Fine Art director Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, will be further developed for the next round. At least three cities will be selected in May.

Thornton Dial's The Bridge honors John Lewis.
Thornton Dial’s The Bridge honors John Lewis.

Love said that the proposal is part of a larger vision in which the corridor bookended by Freedom Park and the Center for Civil and Human Rights will be a continuous civil and human rights narrative. The park is already home to The Bridge, Thornton Dial’s sculptural ode to Congressman John Lewis, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.

“We’d like to complete it by summer 2016,” she said. “It will be appropriate in an election year to think about what it means to be free.”

The Public Art Challenge grant will cover development, execution and project-related expenditures, but it will not fund 100 percent of project costs. Love hopes to get $400,000 from the current infrastructure bond and to attract sponsorships from the business community.

“We are proud that Atlanta was selected as a finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The City of Atlanta understands that the arts play an essential role in defining the cultural vitality of our city and has made it a priority to create new programs and arts opportunities for Atlanta residents.”

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