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Artists: John Pitman WeberNina Smoot Cain
Titles: Various (listed above)
Date Installed: 2009
Locations: Various (listed above)
“We choose to emphasize birds in flight, suggested by the open airiness of the library’s central atrium and the “big sky” feeling of the surroundings. Birds-in-flight is a universal symbol of aspiration and of the freedom of the mind. The birds are portrayed taking off above tall grasses. We have chosen from among those birds iconic to the River of Grass, of which the area was once a part. Our references were Audubon’s classic images and the authoritative Wading Birds of North America. Native American (Seminole) designs work well with the geometry of the space and shapes, and recall an important part of the areas past and present. The design on the right is also a bird abstraction, suggesting the coming and going of migrations.”
Remembering a River:
“River, river-edge thickets, and marsh provide much of our imagery. The images include wading birds, fish, stylized water, turtle, frog (with Seminole pattern suggesting the sequence of eddies created by the frog kicks), salamander, flowers (hibiscus and stylized Seminole flower pattern) and leaves. We aimed at evoking the environment of the New River area before development. Some additional Seminole patterns blend well with the themes and with the grid motif, enhancing the visual rhythms.”
Mr. Fox and Mr. Rabbit Face Off Again:
“We have chosen the key characters of the African-American animal-fable cycle, Fox and Rabbit. They face each other across the atrium, as they also face-off, matching wits both with each other and with all comers, in the stories. These two characters survived the Middle Passage and endured with our ancestors for an important reason: they live by their wits and resourcefulness, not by strength, size or weaponry. These same animals (certainly rabbits) figure prominently in the oral histories of the Carver Ranches pioneers, and are found in the folk-tales of every nation of the world, as well as our shared African, Amerindian, and European heritages. Both Fox and Rabbit are versatile, ingenious, resourceful and full of ideas. We think their battles of wits still have lessons to teach us. We hope their presence will encourage the passing on of this still vital heritage to future generations. The diagonal framing strips completing each design are animated by African and Seminole designs.”
Tomato History of Dania and Animal Tales:
“For the entry, we choose to evoke the two most extraordinary and salient features of the Dania area’s ecology and historical character: Tomatoes and Mangroves, the first a realm of sunshine, on the South side, the second, on the North side, a place of shifting shadows. In the Children’s section, we add glimpses, through the foliage and tree trunks of an imaginary, poetic, brightly colorful abstracted forest, of the animal characters that animate the stories handed down by our various heritages, from Aesop, Perrault, the brothers Grimm, Mother Goose and Native American tales. We have chosen Heron and Frog, Turtle and Rabbit, Fox and Hen, all familiar characters in fables all over the world, watched by our American addition, the Raccoon.”
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John Pitman Weber: "Collaboration is a source of inspiration for me and a wellspring of content. The dialog with residents and involvement of volunteers enriches the work. Collaboration with the audience has deepened my public work. I am always learning something from participants. Out of many ideas come satisfying and original solutions. I have worked with immigrant groups, students, and inner city youth. Participant teams have included factory hands and professionals, children with no art experience, and skilled senior citizen crafters. I especially enjoy intergenerational projects. My recent public work has focused on family stories and shared activities that bring generations together: music, learning, dance, food. I want art to have a flavor of “home cooking” and to resonate with childhood stories and shared dreams."
"Context is always a matrix, providing focus, subject, and inspiration. To understand the visual and spatial experience of site, I walk, I photograph. The human landscape is as important as its physical/visual/ecological character. Listening to an open dialog with residents and stakeholders, inviting each to tell their own story is the key. Design images are distilled from a mass of expressive material. Residents contribute to the research, the design process, and when possible, the execution. To function effectively, the symbolic and affective content of the work must be deeply rooted in local ground and local experience."
"While affirming shared heritages, participants can also rethink their identities and reframe perceived problems as positive challenges. The building of symbolic gateways and pathways evokes our ongoing human journeys, both as individuals and as a nation. Meeting places, markers, and wall images provoke exchanges of stories that affirm our reconsidered community and our re-imagined shared future. Community public art is a process of designing and symbolically building our lives together."
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