Client: Charlotte Mecklenburg University Police Department
Location: Charlotte, NC, United States
Completion date: 2021
Lead Artist + Fabricator
Beth Nybeck LLC
City of Charlotte, North Carolina
Arts and Science
The artwork depicts seven silhouettes of individuals who live and work in the Charlotte community. They are police officers, community members and people who have had run-ins with the law.
This artwork wrestles with perspective and perception. We are a collection of stories. Our stories are important, valuable and precious. When we take the time to listen to each other, our humanity is displayed and we are able to connect with one another. As we experience people throughout life, our interactions limit our perception of a person. The longer and more in depth our encounter, the more information we have to help us understand a person or situation. If we don’t do the hard work of investing and trying to understand each other, we will miss the mark.
Sculpture Details: Aluminum, 25’ x 5’ x 12’ (LWH)
The main goal within this artwork is to reflect the relationship between the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Force and the community. The artwork is designed to be a conversation starter and a place of reflection.
Nybeck designed "Who Do You Say I Am?" to convey an experience of perspective and prejudice, with a hoped outcome of a changed perception. As the audience initially engages with the artwork, the artwork is obscure. As one gets closer, the images of the silhouettes become more pronounced. Much of the viewership is either vehicular or light rail passengers. Their experience is fast and brief, leaving just a quick impression of the artwork.
This artwork is meant to reflect a relationship that goes beyond a brief encounter. It reveals a relationship that gives meaning and depth if you are willing to put the time into it. Once the audience explores the artwork further, the silhouettes will become distinct and different. The backside of the sculpture reveals personal stories of that individual. This is the moment of changing perspective, when the audience is able to make a connection with an unknown silhouette. If we move past those brief impressions that is when people become more than a shadow and give value to us.
Nybeck conducted in-depth interviews of many of Charlotte's residents. Nybeck was intentional about collecting a diverse and accurate representation of the Charlotte population in both age, ethnicity and background. The purpose was to get to hear some stories that helped to shape the heart of the interviewee.
Nybeck selected a portion of their interview and it has been etched into the backside surface of the sculpture. As people experience the sculpture, they will get to read a portion of their "heart shaping story", and the silhouette will go from an unknown stranger to someone we've just made a connection with.