The City of Durham had an opportunity to create a more inviting space for Durham Station users and encourage increased transit use based on improvement needs of the center plaza landscaping. The Cultural & Public Art Program and Transportation Department commissioned an artist to create three temporary artistic sitting structures along the plaza area for high-volume use. The Durham Station is located at 515 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham NC 27701. Durham Station was designed by Phil Freelon and completed by The Freelon Group in 2008, soon to receive a 2009 Golden Leaf Award for Community Appearance.
The artist, Theresa Arico, was selected from the Pre-Qualified Artists Registry by a panel of community members, Go Durham staff, City administrative staff, and Public Art Committee members. For more information about how to apply to the Pre-Qualified Artist Registry, please visit the Cultural & Public Art Program’s website, here: https://durhamnc.gov/2984/Durham-Calls-for-Artists. The deadline to apply for this public art project was Friday, April 30, 2021.
The Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) provided funding for the public art amenities at Durham Station. For the FY 2020-25 CIP, capital projects are funded through impact fees, enterprise funds, grants, the capital project fund, pay-go funding, and debt financings. More information about the CIP process and funding can be found here.
Durham Station Background & History
"Durham Station Transportation Center is the transportation hub at the heart of the City of Durham that provides multiple alternatives to automobile traffic, an essential component needed to support more densely populated urban areas. The project, made possible by a combination of city, state, and federal funding, ensures more efficient transportation throughout the Triangle.
The two-story, 10,300 sq. ft. facility serves four and one-half million of DATA’s five million annual passengers. The site boasts twenty canopied bus bays, six parking spaces for taxicabs, disability parking, short-term parking, “kiss and ride” drop-off, and bicycle racks all organized around a transparent, day-lit passenger terminal that includes ticketing, waiting, package express, a driver’s lounge, security, and space for future amenities. The high performance glass enclosed open environment encourages social interaction while maintaining safety and comfort for waiting patrons.
The design of Durham Station references the City of Durham’s rich cultural history by using materials selected to respect the visual and tactile texture of masonry found in Durham’s tobacco warehouses. The predominantly glass exterior walls offer a secure environment, visibility of transportation activity, and views of the downtown area, Historic American Tobacco, West Village, and the surrounding areas. Articulated metal roof forms, masonry, and concrete embraces the location’s industrial context while acknowledging the dynamic movement of Durham Station’s transit program and its adjacent intermodal transit facilities.
In addition to the high performance glazing, generous roof overhangs and solar shading devices mitigate solar head gain while maintaining visual transparency. More than 30 percent below standard energy usage, the building not only serves sustainable transit practices but embraces energy conservation within its own footprint."
Durham Station Mosaic Benches
Mosaic Bench Descriptions
The bench currently located on the upper level is called Tribute to NC Native Flora and Fauna, featuring Milkweed, a source food for migrating Monarch butterflies and caterpillars. Part of the greatest migratory phenomenon, Monarch Butterflies use milkweed as a larval host plant and draw nectar from its repeating clusters of flower blooms. Also featured are North Carolina wild lilies and swamp sunflowers.
Tribute to the Eno River and her Tributary Critters, located near the entrance of the station, features glow in the dark tiles along the top and sides, a variety of fish common to the Eno River, including the largemouth bass and the bluegill. Additionally it features custom mosaic tiles of animals common in the tributary which include a great blue heron, a racoon, squirrels, a red-tailed fox, a mother opossum and her babies, a snapping turtle, and a young doe sitting in the grasses. The bench is designed as an "S-shape" denoting the movement of water.
The third bench located in the plaza is called Tribute to NC Birds of Prey. The giant feather bench-top complements the nearby mural by Durham artist Gabriel Eng-Goetz. This bench includes mirrored outlines of the trees and custom made mosaics of a Barred Owl and a Barn Owl, a black vulture, song birds, and stylized clouds. Included on this bench is a red-shouldered hawk; the artist decided to incorporate the hawk after several GoDurham bus drivers shared that a red-shouldered hawk often landed on the back fence area at the station.
Tribute to the Eno River and her Tributary Critters
Tribute to the Eno River and her Tributary Critters
Tribute to NC Birds of Prey
7 feet long x 3.5 feet wide x 20 inches deep
Glass, ceramic, tile, mirror; multimedia mosaic
Community Conversations & Survey
The artist, Theresa Arico, along with CJ Suitt, the Chapel Hill poet Laureate and facilitator of public engagement projects, visited the Durham bus terminal for 2- 3 hour periods and canvassed riders, bus drivers, and other folks around the terminal about possible subject matter for the bench designs. They spoke with over 250 people during both visits. Arico and Suitt conducted a public survey following the engagement aspect. Based on the feedback they received, Arico proposed three possible bench designs. Ultimately, Arico was given approval to move forward with any combination of the three benches from the initial design proposal.
In the artist's own words...
"I love to create art in the form of mosaics. Weaving together different materials such as stained glass, tiles, crockery and trinkets of their myriad shapes and colors into a singular expression which tells a complete story is great fun! I am particularly fond of using both new and recycled objects to create a unique new vision and purpose. Reassigning value in cast-off objects that normally contribute to the waste stream in our culture is important to me. Reinvention and second chances are important aspects of our human story as well.
I draw my creative inspiration directly from nature and the beauty that is present in the natural world. I think of my pieces as altars, or portals that combine aspects of the seen and unseen realms together as a means of tribute and homage. I often incorporate small shelves within larger pieces, so people can place candles, bouquets of flowers or something inspirational upon them. I also love using mirror or mirrored outlines in my work, as it gives viewers the opportunity to see a part of themselves reflected in the assembled mosaic. In this way, the work is not stagnant but ever changing and enlivened.
My purpose in making art is to create beauty that is resourced through a higher or mystical perspective. I am also interested in creating public art that brings community together both in the creation of the work and also how it depicts a sense of unity and our shared humanity. I hope that my work inspires you and quickens a sense of mystery in the natural world!"