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Civil Rights Public Art Project

Walter Hood Design

The Metro Arts Commission approved the selection of artist Walter Hood to create new public art commemorating the city’s role in the historic Civil Rights Movement. His design for “Witness Walls” utilizes iconic photos of the Civil Rights movement in Nashville to honor the events and the people who made history here and created the blueprint for nonviolent protest. The installation will be located on the west side of the historic Metro Nashville Courthouse, steps away from the historic April 19, 1960 student-led protest that led then-Mayor Ben West to disavow segregation of Nashville’s lunch counters. The artwork is expected to be installed in 2015.

“Witness Walls” is a set of fragmented sculptural walls, inspired by the classical sculpted friezes commemorating heroic and mythical events in antiquity. As visitors walk through “Witness Walls” they will encounter numerous images etched into concave and convex walls by a “graphic concrete” technology. The walls guide visitors through different historic aspects of Nashville’s Civil Rights movement and different physical experiences as the walls bend towards and away from one another. The preliminary design also includes three small reflective fountains and the use of audio, possibly music reflective of the time period.

Hood, a native of Charlotte, N.C., received his bachelor degree in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina A&T State University before receiving both Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. He also earned a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in in studio arts and sculpture. Currently, Hood lives in Oakland, Calif., and is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design Department, which he chaired from 1998 to 2002. His studio practice, Hood Design, has been engaged in environmental design, urban design, art installations, and research commissions since 1992. More information about the artist can be found on his website, and on the Media and Press section.

Community Engagement

Additional public meetings with the artist will be announced once Metro Arts finalizes a contract with the artist. We hope you will join us for these conversations with the artist. Sign up for our e-newsletter, Arts Alert, for the latest news on public art projects.

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