The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 29, 2021 1:00 am

Artists chosen for MLK sculpture

To be at Saint Francis downtown campus

DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

The Fort Wayne Public Arts Commission has selected the artist for a public monument of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The monument, which is being created in partnership with the University of Saint Francis, will be installed in the parking area on West Berry Street across from the university's Performing Arts Center, formerly the Scottish Rite building, site of King's speech on June 5, 1963.

Fort Wayne City Council is expected to act on the recommendation in December.

In 2020, the council passed a resolution to start a process to create a public display to commemorate King's visit to Fort Wayne on his way to Washington, D.C. Two months later, King made his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

The arts commission created a selection committee and issued a request for qualifications in February. After reviewing submissions, the committee invited three artists to submit a proposal.

In August, the committee recommended a proposal called “Pillars of Hope and Justice” by Shane Albritton and Norman Lee of RE:site Studio. The recommendation was approved by the arts commission Wednesday.

The final design and development process is expected to start in January if City Council approves the request.

The arts commission and artists will seek community input as part of the final design. The monument is expected to be unveiled June 5, 2023, as part of a planned 60th anniversary commemoration of King's speech in Fort Wayne.

The monument will feature six 15-foot-tall pillars in a circle around a stone or concrete plaza, according to the release. LED ground up-lights will be installed at the center of each pillar to illuminate the monument at night.

The sculptural, steel forms will bear words from King's 1963 Fort Wayne speech: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Albritton and Lee commented on their selection.

“We are so honored to build this monument to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights leaders of Fort Wayne, Indiana,” they said in a statement. “As artists, we were moved to learn more about the history of grassroots democracy in Indiana. We hope that this monument inspires Fort Wayne residents to apply Dr. King's pillars of nonviolence resistance and carry the civil rights movement forward.”

Nancy Stewart, commission chairwoman, said she is excited to partner with the university to add the monument to Fort Wayne's growing collection of public art.

“This stunning commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's speech and visit to Fort Wayne in 1963 will serve to educate existing and future generations,” she said, “as well as create a destination to be enjoyed by residents and visitors for years to come.”

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