Axis Mundi

Submitted by Kate Raudenbush

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Client: Golden Triangle, Business Improvement District

Location: Washington , DC, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $60,000

Project Team

Curator, project director

Karyn Miller

Golden Triangle BID

Laser cutting & metal shaping

Michael Josephs

Metalworks, Inc

Sand blasting and Powder coat

Diego Vaca

Arcane Moto

Sand blasting and Powder coat

Charles Cabrera

Quality Powder Coating, NYC

Overview

A futuristic obelisk holds a reflection of democracy. Inspired by Washington DC as a “world center.” Axis Mundi is about place and people, past and present, container and contained, structure and society. In a local view, it’s obelisk form refers to the city’s central Washington Monument, it is a symbol that connects earth and sky, like a beam of the light of the world’s first democracy: “out of many, one.”
The sculpture’s base references the dynamic diagonal patterns of Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s city plan, while star patterns connect the city to the celestial sky above.
The sculpture’s mirrored core reflects the vital center of the city: it’s people. Utilizing the reflective sphere as a symbol of a living Democracy, this sculpture represents this inclusive ideal which reflects the power of the people in the present moment. Axis Mundi asks: what does it mean to work here, at the axis of one of the worlds most important cities? What is our role in upholding its ideals to shape a better world?

Materials: Laser-cut and powder-coated steel, stainless steel sphere, integrated LED lighting.
Dims: 15′ H x 5′ w x 5′ D

Goals

The sculpture is located by Farragut Park, one of the hubs of the the "Golden Triangle" aka the business district of DC where Connecticut Ave and K street intersect, also where the Lobbyists and Federal Govt intersect. Therefore it was important to create a sculpture that reflected both ideals of the city, and of the people that bring it to life. That is what the mirrored center reflects: the core of our living Democracy that We The People must uphold to make this city and country truly great.

Process

The challenge of location was to maximize a tiny space on a median in a busy intersection: max 15' and 7'w x 7'd and find a way to install it that took only one lane of traffic. This was a great team with Metalworks in the Bronx NY doing the concentric rings, Quality Powder Coating in Astoria Queens and Arcane Moto in Brooklyn doing the painting. Golden Triangle BID are 100% on point when it comes to the public art management and care after installation- including beautiful landscaping and flowers to match the artwork all year long.

Additional Information

The meaning of this sculpture was especially resonant and appreciated by the DC residents during the recent public protests against Police Brutality in May/June 2020. At the center of the sculpture, the mirrored surface of the 24” diameter stainless steel sphere reflects the entire world around it, as it exists in real time. Thus, the sphere inside Axis Mundi reflects the living democracy that forms the heart of this city: it reflects “We the People.” The sphere represents the element of immediacy and direct participation that is necessary to make this country’s democracy truly great. It is also clear that we must have integrity within leadership, to better inspire integrity in the whole. Democracy is not just an idea, it is a practice. It is an energetic sense of purpose that is upheld by all of us: in the everyday actions of our citizens and leadership. This is what is reflected in the core of this artwork: Us. We are the living, evolving democracy of the United States. Our honest participation is required for it to work.