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Off the Mall: Area Public Artworks Rank as Finalists for the CODAawards

A view of "Evolve 17," an installation that spans various levels of the Leidos headquarters in Reston, VA.

These large-scale installations in Maryland and Virginia could win this year’s prize!

 

By Julia Chance

 

Public art is creative expression that meets us where we are, and that is part of its charm. Be it a colorful mural on the route to work, an exquisite installation in the lobby of a building we enter, or an outdoor sculpture that becomes a must-see landmark, we get to view and experience that artwork in our environment. It may prompt us to engage with the areas we frequent a little differently or see them in a different light. And, of course it introduces us to artists, whose work we may not otherwise have an opportunity to see.

Six public works in Maryland and Virginia are among the 100 finalists for the 2021 CODAawards, an international prize given to artists, designers, architects and others involved in integrating commissioned artwork into interior, architecture, and/or public spaces. Design categories include Landscape, Residential, Healthcare, Commercial, Institutional, Liturgical, Public Spaces, Transportation, Hospitality, and Education.

Eighteen esteemed jurors, including Cindy Allen, editor-in-chief of Interior Design; Malene Barnett, founder of the Black Artists + Designers Guild; and Frances Bronet, president of Pratt Institute in New York City, have spent weeks reviewing and scoring all 374 entries to narrow down the Top 100. They will agree on one winner in each category to create the 2021 CODAawards winners circle, in addition to two People’s Choice CODAawardees that you can help select.

View the Top 100 here, and vote for your favorites through Wednesday, June 30. You may vote for as many projects as you’d like, but you may only vote once per project. The final winners will be announced on August 30. The CODAawards is sponsored by CODAworx, a creative online platform that connects artists, de­signers, and fabricators with municipalities and developers who commission artwork.

These finalists from our region are all winners, in our opinion, and are worth seeing in-person.

 

Simon, Reston, VA

Simon, an 18-foot Corten and stainless steel installation by noted sculptor DeWitt Godfrey, sits in small circular plaza at the the new Valley and Park townhouse development in Reston,VA. “The form was a response to the relatively small entrance plaza,” says Godfrey. “We needed a narrow base and the cone shape allowed us to have a large volume with a small footprint. The cone is also a beacon, a torch holder, a marker of place and a signal to guide you home.”

 

Menokin Remembrance Structure, Warsaw, VA

Menokin Remembrance Structure is a pavilion on the grounds of the Menokin Foundation, a former tobacco plantation and the site of the 18th century house of Francis Lightfoot Lee, one of Virginia’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. It was erected above the archaeological footprint of an 18th-century field slave dwelling using the timber-building techniques of that period. The structure is wrapped in a translucent agricultural fabric and, with the aid of solar lighting, glows at night in memorial of its former residents. A team of craftsmen, students, and volunteers constructed Menokin Remembrance Structure on site, using local materials during a five-day timber building workshop.

 

Evolve 17, Reston, VA

The colorful and faceted Evolve 17 was created for the new global headquarters of technology firm Leidos whose name is clipped from the word kaleidoscope. The dichroic glass used to integrate the structure’s secondary colors was invented by one of Leidos’ clients, NASA, and the design captures the company’s five brand values – visionary, smart, approachable, authentic, and pragmatic. Check out this video to get the full effect.

 

Phoenix Rising, Norfolk, VA

Pheonix Rising, a large mosaic by stone mason and artist Marc Archambault, brightens the main hallway of Richard Bowling Elementary School in Norfolk, Virginia. It is one of five that the artist has created for five of the city’s new public schools. “After meeting students in their art classes, and observing their ‘life drawing’ lessons, I wanted to show art as a fundamental part of life, not something esoteric,” says Archambault. “I wanted the kids of the Norfolk schools to recognize themselves in the artwork. I hope they will see themselves and see value and possibility in creating art and making things.”

 

MONUMENTS, Bethesda, MD

Australian-based artist Craig Walsh created MONUMENTS for Strathmore arts center’s Monuments: Creative Forces, a tribute to six local artists. The installation was comprised of videos projected onto various trees on Strathmore’s campus, allowing socially distanced, masked viewers to enjoy a bit of art during the height of the pandemic last fall. It’s no longer on view, but you can see it here.

 

From Absence to Presence, St. Mary’s City, MD

During archaeological work that preceded construction of a new stadium, St. Mary’s College discovered evidence of slave quarters from two distinct periods that pre-date its founding. From Absence to Presence, by Shane Allbritton and Norman Lee, takes the form of a slave quarter that materializes from the ground up, evoking how this history was uncovered from archaeological research thus making the invisible visible. The surfaces are gradated in a pattern of staggered and alternating Ipe wood clapboard and mirror polished stainless steel, recalling the staggered pattern of erasure poetry. At night the words of poetry become illuminated to serve as an eternal vigil to the memory and resilience of the enslaved people who once lived, loved, worked, and resisted on the school’s grounds.

 

Design for Distancing, Baltimore, MD

Conceived as a challenge  by the City of Baltimore and other civic interests, Design for Distancing reimagines the city’s Station North Arts and Entertainment District as a vibrant destination that will flourish long after the pandemic that challenged it’s businesses and activities is over. The project’s defining ethos of functionality means that all elements are designed for post-pandemic reuse, hearkening to a future with a pedestrian-owned streetscape and a commercial corridor where small businesses can make a bigger mark. Artist Becky Borlan‘s energetic building and street murals are inspired by the colors, patterns, and textures found throughout the neighborhood.

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