Unity

Submitted by Alex Pentek

0

Client: Department of General Services, City of Washington DC.

Location: Washington DC, DC, United States

Completion date: 2021

Artwork budget: $65,000

Project Team

Head of Contracts

Doug Dormer

Department of Gerneral Services

Director of Fabricator firm.

James Bomba

Red Pepper Forge

Overview

Symbolizing the achievements of Charles Hamilton Houston who dismantled the ‘Jim Crow’ racist segregation laws in America by the image of an Alium Flower in Washington DC. Made from laser-cut stainless steel flowers in a mathematical formation, in floriography, the Alium represents unity, integration and staying true to one’s principles in times of adversity. Serving as a 2nd Lieutenant Field Gunner in WW1, and experiencing racism from within the American Army, Houston said “The hate and scorn showered on negro officers by our fellow Americans convinced me that there was no sense in dying for a world ruled by them. I made up my mind that if I got through the war, I would study law and spend my time fighting for men, who could not strike back.”

Goals

This artwork aims to positively integrate the new school building with the physical and socio-political context of the community by remembering the acheivements of black activist Charles Hamilton Houston. Placed outside Charles H Houston Elementary School in Washington DC, and based on the underlying geometry of a 20-sided icosahedron, the work also alludes to the mathematics of nature and of sacred geometry to visually communicate the idea of an integrated world.

Process

The work is near completion by Red Pepper Forge, a artwork local fabrication firm based in Maryland. This process has been led by me remotely using detailed fabrication procedure and drawings prepared by me in close liaison with the project architect, engineer, contractor, Department of General Services (DGS), and the fabricator. My 25 years hands-on experience in the workshop in a range of materials enables me to work and think in this way. Following media coverage of my being awarded this commission, I was personally commended for remembering Houston's stand against oppression in a signed letter from Irish President Michael D Higgins.