Client: Sunrise Rotary
Location: Birmingham, AL, United States
Completion date: 2022
Artwork budget: $200,000
Steel City Metal
Client - Sunrise Rotary
The center sculpture soars 26’ into the skyline and is hand cut using 370’ of 85lb. Rail. Past the mid-section of the vertical rise, there is a silver sphere nested inside the hand cut rail, reiterating the impression of a water droplet – the source of life and fostering renewal.
Rail cut at varying vertical heights, cascades as a triptych around the sculpture, replicating a sense of the geology of the valley and thereby honoring the contributions of our natural resources in our built environments. The color of aged rail, ocre, bright silver and the glossy blackness of coal speak to Birmingham’s industrial heritage.
The definition of inception: the establishment or starting point (of an activity). The concept of the drop of water is for regeneration or new life into the landscape. Nothing erases the past - in fact it becomes a distant memory, or a ripple in time. But it is how we honor our past that determines our future. The reshaping of the environment and the human impact of that reshaping continues in Birmingham to this day. The center sphere of the sculpture is the inception or starting point of opportunity for our future - and the choices we make every day, individually and collectively are the determining factor in how we shape our future.
Birmingham's existence began with the railroad. Prior to the rail, Jones Valley was just another valley in the foothills of the Appalachians. Once it was discovered there was coal, limestone, iron ore and dolomite, along with an abundance of fresh water, Birmingham quickly grew to become one of the South’s largest industrial-based metropolitan areas. The Relic Yard Park is designed in its entirety as a "relic yard'', honoring the industrial legacy of Birmingham and the repercussions of that eventuality.
Water from the nearby Avondale Spring brought the rail and industry to the area and is the inspiration for the design concept for the park. A birds eye view reveals land that is sculpted in concentric circles that undulate out from the circular base of the center sculpture, creating the rippling effect of a drop of water, disrupting the linear park. The ripple breaks at 4 points (2 on either side of the sculpture). These breaks create a walking path leading off to the edges of the park, where there are four additional sculpture sites for future build out. Other Birmingham or regional artists will have the opportunity to contribute public art elements using industrial relic material readily available in Birmingham and contributing to the industrial history being shared throughout
Inception encourages a relationship between the pedestrian, their interconnected natural environment and our shared history; honoring the invaluable contributions made by the native abundance of the land and by the iron and steel workers and their families to Birmingham’s economic, cultural and industrial development. Technological innovation, natural resources and humanity paved the way for an industrialized Birmingham. These are still the key ingredients for sustaining communities all across the United States today. It’s how these resources are allocated that determines the outcome of the overall health, wellness, and economic viability of the community long term.