VOL. 132 | NO. 155 | Monday, August 7, 2017
'I Am a Man' Plaza Initial Design Unveiled
By Bill Dries
The initial design of a public plaza south of FedExForum commemorating the 1968 sanitation workers strike calls for a central sculpture with the words “I Am a Man” in 15-foot-tall stainless steel letters, along with quotes from speeches by civil rights leaders on other parts of the built environment and on the letters of the sculpture.
The city of Memphis and the UrbanArt Commission announced Monday, Aug. 7, that Memphis landscape architect John Jackson of JPA Inc. and Cliff Garten of California-based Cliff Garten Studio will lead the public art project, working in collaboration with Memphis spoken word artist Steve Fox.
The plaza, which takes its name from the slogan on the signs carried by the sanitation workers during the three-month strike, is on what is currently an open lot on the southeast corner of Hernando Street and Pontotoc Avenue, across from Clayborn Temple.
Hernando Street outside the church was the starting point for many of the marches sanitation workers made to City Hall during the strike. The plaza is part of the city’s larger plans to mark the 60th anniversary of the strike, including Dr. Martin Luther King’s involvement and his assassination, next year.
The design selection committee reviewed 78 applications, with six of those artists or artist teams invited to submit site-specific proposals.
The process now moves to set of four workshops to engage the public in the specific design and to review the text that will be used in the design elements.
The first of those sessions is Aug. 19 at New Chicago Community Development Corp., 1036 Firestone Ave., at 1 p.m. The other sessions are Aug. 24 at Orange Mound Community Center, 2572 Park Ave., at 10:30 a.m.; Aug. 29 at Clayborn Temple, 294 Hernando St., at 5:30 p.m.; and Sept. 7 at Whitehaven Community Center, 4318 Graceland Drive, at 5 p.m.