MEMPHIS, TN May 20-  The City of Memphis and UrbanArt Commission (UAC) commissioned Memphis-based artist Terry Lynn to create a large-scale sculpture as apart of the South City redevelopment. Lynn is traditionally a painter and illustrator in the city, but saw this sculpture project as an opportunity to expand his artistic practice in public art and submit a proposal to pay homage to his grandfather, Leon Lynn, who was a brick mason for Foote Homes.

Artist, Terry Lynn

Artist, Terry Lynn

The South City housing redevelopment is a multi-strategy plan to redevelop the historic Foote Homes housing development into a mixed-use and mixed-income community that will create connections to adjacent neighborhoods of South Memphis, Downtown, and the Medical District. It also will serve as an opportunity to support stronger connections of place through improved pedestrian and enhanced green spaces. An integral facet of the redevelopment efforts is to elevate and give voice to the rich African American history of the neighborhood along with neighboring cultural assets like the National Civil Rights Museum and Robert R. Church Park.

UAC is committed to creating public art projects that are reflective of the neighborhoods in which they are embedded. Following extensive conversations with the selection committee, Public Art Oversight Committee and residents attending a public meeting hosted by the City of Memphis, the call to artists was released by invitation to a group of Memphis artists based on eligibility criteria that a person of color participate in a lead design role and that the team involves some experience developing public art previously. The invitational call to artists was released to Carl Moore, The Collective, Terry Lynn, Tootsie Bell, Tobacco Brown, Suzy Hendrix, Chuck Johnson, Gerard Harris, Christopher Reyes, Cat Peña, Gerard Harris and Arnold Thompson in (insert date of RFQ?). The selection committee then invited the following teams to submit proposals in (insert date) Cat Peña and Jamond Bullock, Arnold Thompson and Mark Nowell, Suzy Hendrix and Self + Tucker, and Terry Lynn and George Gadsen. As UAC’s Executive Director, Lauren Kenedy believed “it was important to UAC and the committees involved for the artist or team selected for this project to include an artist of color in a lead design role and be based in Memphis in order to engage the neighborhood in a meaningful way.”

Selection committee members appreciated Lynn’s personal connections to the neighborhood including his work with residents through Advance Memphis to mentor and equip program participants with the skills needed to become a professional artist, and family ties through Lynn’s grandfather’s work as a brickmason for Foote Homes. Lynn mentioned “I applied to the project because it really resonated with me” and the design proposal truly reflects the intentionality and attention to the neighborhoods African American lineageHe submitted a design proposal that uses African quilting patterns and symbolism signifying community and history of South City. He will engage with residents over the next several months to refine his proposal and develop final designs.

The South City public art project is funded through the City of Memphis’ percent-for-art program and the Choice Neighborhood grant to redevelop the former Foote Homes housing development and revitalize the surrounding neighborhood. UAC manages the City’s public art program, recommending project opportunities and facilitating the artist selection process, design, fabrication and installation of projects.

The artist selection committee for this project includes Mairi Albertson, City of Memphis Housing and Community Development; LaTonya Taylor, South City resident; Eva Mosby, Director of Operations at Urban Strategies; Mike Shaw, Advance Memphis; Memphis-based artists Yancy Villa-Calvo and Kong Wee Pang; Lar’Juanette Williams, Executive Director of Memphis Black Arts Alliance; Emily Bernstein, Vice President of McCormack Baron; Rebecca Hutchinson, SCORE CDC (non-voting member); and Elizabeth Thompson Bringle, City of Memphis Engineering Division (non-voting member).