Artwork Pays Homage to Durham’s African American Business Community; Opening Celebration Set for June 16
In June, two new public artworks will be celebrated in the downtown Durham green-space known as Black Wall Street Gardens that will pay homage to the Bull City’s African American business community.
Located at the corner of West Parrish Street, West Main Street, and North Mangum Street, the two new sculptures were installed by local artist team David Wilson and Stephen Hayes to honor the history of African American entrepreneurship and success on Durham’s Black Wall Street, and to contribute to the City of Durham’s efforts to create an energetic and lively environment in downtown. The community is invited to an opening celebration for the new public art installations on Thursday, June 16 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“The Prism looks to shine a light on Black Wall Street’s unsung heroes particularly the women who helped establish Black Wall Street as the hub for business and financial services,” said Artist Stephen Hayes. Hayes is a Durham-based creator specializing in sculpture, fabrication, ceramics, metal working, and exhibition installation. He received a Master of Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design and has been exhibited in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and the Nasher Museum at Duke University, among others.
The second piece, The Book Tree, features a bronze patina finish that pays homage to the organic nature in which the Black Wall Street community grew and the people who farmed its growth according to Artist David Wilson. “This finish showcases the growth of entrepreneurial spirit that envisions the past, present, and future through the prism of Southern Blackness.” Wilson is a Durham-based public artist who explores the connection between architecture, nature, and the public to create site-specific work, with art installations across North Carolina.
According to the artist team, these public artworks also feature commemorative poems by Village of Wisdom Associate Director of Arts and Culture Aya Shabu, that speak to the legacy of Durham’s African American community and the impact they continue to make.
In addition to these new art installations, the City’s General Services Department has installed lighting, landscaping, and walkway improvements to further enhance Black Wall Street Gardens as a pedestrian-friendly gathering space.
For more information about the Black Wall Street Gardens public art installation, visit the project webpage or contact Cultural and Public Art Program Manager Rebecca Brown with the Arts, Culture, and Sustainable Communities Division of the General Services Department by email or by calling (919) 560-4197, ext. ext. 21245.
For more information about the Cultural & Public Art Program, contact Division Manager Summer Alston with the Arts, Culture, and Sustainable Communities Division of the General Services Department by email or by calling (919) 560-4197, ext. 21254.
About the City of Durham General Services Department
The General Services Department builds and maintains City properties to make Durham a great place for people to live, work, and play. Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the department’s core functions include the acquisition and sale of properties, design and management of new construction and renovation projects, building maintenance, landscaping and urban forestry services, cemeteries management, sustainability and energy management, cultural and public art program management, and supporting the nonprofit Keep Durham Beautiful.
About the City of Durham Cultural and Public Art Program
The City of Durham’s Cultural and Public Art Program affirms Durham’s rich cultural and arts community is a part of what makes Durham neighborhoods thrive, attracts tourism, spurs business development, and brings residents together. The Program seeks to bring cultural and public art opportunities into the everyday experience of Durham residents through delivery of culturally relevant programming. Under the Arts, Culture, and Sustainable Communities Division within the General Services Department, the Program manages the City’s public art collection, festivals and special events funding, and two public advisory bodies: the Durham Cultural Advisory Board and the Public Art Committee. Residents and artists interested in art-related opportunities can sign up for alerts through the Calls for Art mailing list.