Barbara Jordan Commemoration Monument - CODAworx

Barbara Jordan Commemoration Monument

Submitted by Houston Arts Alliance

Client: City of Houston, Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs

Location: Houston, TX, United States

Completion date: 2023

Artwork budget: $282,500

Project Team

Director

Necole Irvin

Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs

Program Manager, Civic Art

Theresa Escobedo

Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs

Director

Dr. Rhea Lawson

Houston Public Library

Assistant Director, Spaces

John Middleton

Houston Public Library

Artist

Charisse Pearlina Weston

Artist

Jamal Cyrus

Glass Fabricator

Mayer of Munich

CEO

John Abodeely

Houston Arts Alliance

Director of Civic Art

Grace Zuñiga

Houston Arts Alliance

Overview

Representing the life and work of Barbara C. Jordan, Meditative Space in Reflection of the Life and Work of the late Barbara Jordan, is a dynamic, commemorative space wherein free-standing glass panels include intricate photographic and text-based collage of materials situated within a tranquil structure.

Transforming the lawn to the right of the Gregory School Library’s entrance, the Meditative Space invites visitors to enter a place of reflection to consider Jordan’s dedication to public service, racial justice, and the fulfillment of American ideals. The footprint of the commission is informed by the Adinkra symbol sepow, which represents justice and authority.

The commission presents an image of Jordan which highlights not only the prowess and commanding voice of Jordan – politician, lawyer, professor, and public figure – but it also celebrates the lesser-known image of Jordan as a woman of deep compassion and conviction rooted in her lasting ties to her family and community.

The commission was unveiled at The African American Library at the Gregory School in the Summer of 2023.

Goals

The Civic Art Program of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA), requested consideration to design, fabricate, and install an outdoor artwork that would pay tribute to the life and legacy of educator and civic leader Barbara Jordan.

Goals for the project required that artwork create a space or environment that invites community interaction with the artwork and incorporates themes central to Barbara Jordan’s life and legacy, consistent with Houston Public Library’s vision to be a vital member of a dynamic and diverse local, national, and global community, and respond to the history and architecture of the renovated, historic library and location within Houston’s Freedmen’s Town.

“This commission marks a pivotal moment in the timeline of our Civic Art Program. This is but the second public artwork honoring a woman to be featured in our Civic Art Collection – and the first honoring an African American woman – a leader of people whose influence crossed racial barriers and whose voice is very much relevant today,” said Necole Irvin, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. “

Process

MOCA’s Civic Art Program, in collaboration with the Houston Public Library (HPL), requested the submission of qualifications from a nation-wide search for artists or artist-teams to design, fabricate, and install an outdoor artwork and tribute to the educator and civic leader.  A selection panel of City department, community, and art world representatives was assembled by Houston Arts Alliance to review artist qualifications and to recommended concepts for this project. Panelists included artist Leamon Green, curators Rebecca Matalon, Kanitra Fletcher, and Danielle Burns Wilson, and Director of Freedmen’s Town Conservancy Zion Escobar. Artists Jamal Cyrus and Charisse Weston make up the collaborative team which have developed the concept and will execute the commemorative artwork.