Project Overview

Cordova Library Sculpture Project

Budget: $100,000 (includes honoraria for selected artists to develop site-specific proposals)

Most recent benchmark/update: Tylur French of Youngblood Studio has been selected artist by the Artist Selection Committee (ASC) and Public Art Oversight Committee (PAOC).

Upcoming benchmark/update: Schematic design (proposal of the Site ad the Artwork) which include plans, specifications, drawings, preliminary budget and models as necessary to present a meaningful representation of the concept. The proposal shall also specify materials, general dimensions, weight, finish and preliminary recommendations.

Next Artist Selection Committee Meeting: TBD

Project Description

Artist Concept

French’s aim is to draw upon the Library’s surrounding natural landscape as well as the historical role of flowers and light agriculture that helped play a fundamental role in the history of this community. In an effort to garner more attention and increase curbside recognition, French will focus on the raised circular bed in the turnabout where most pick-ups and drop offs take place. This circular center feature is also close to the front entrance of the Library. This proximity is an important consideration because he wants to create a sculptural form that is strong and compelling from the street while inviting people to engage with it in a more intimate and immersive way.

French plans to create a sculpture/space that draws equally on the natural surroundings and the language, history and context of the Library itself. The basic form of this piece is cylindrical and approximately 12 feet in diameter and reaches a height of about 16 feet. The sculpture will be stainless steel on the outside with a lush palette of color on the inside for contrast. There will be a generous arched opening in the front and the back sides of the sculpture to openly invite the viewer to enter the art piece and begin to experience the space in more depth and detail. These openings will allow a straight line of site from the street to the library’s entrance. The walls of the structure are comprised completely of text in the form of quotes, authors, literary titles, important figures in the library’s history etc.

To gather and collect suggestions for all these valuable and meaningful references we will get great input from the Memphis Public Library staff and representatives as well as solicit input from Cordova schools and the community that frequent the Library on a regular basis. The visual and physical composition of the text will begin with the largest letters located at the bottom of the structure walls and would gradually diminish in size as the form gets taller. The top of the form is one of the most critical aspects of this sculpture. As the text gets smaller and smaller as it goes up, there will begin to be subtle breaks and gaps in the writing. These breaks and gaps will increase until the top 3 or 4 feet more closely resemble a hedge or a thicket than the formatted words below.

Located in the center space of this piece is a round custom configured bench to invite all participants to enter and linger as they absorb its information. To increase this project’s impact on and in the space, there will be a singular LED light source located discreetly in the top center of this piece. A fixture of this type can be expected to have a life of 50,000-75,000 hours. This will project the text across the surrounding parking lot and front face facade of the library itself after sunset. This sculpture will create a rich and iconic form without overwhelming its natural surroundings while offering a vast array of references and information as potential sources for exploration to the people who utilize the Library and Park facilities throughout the year.

Scope of Work

UrbanArt Commission is partnering with the City of Memphis to produce a sculpture (s) that attracts Memphis and Cordova residents as well as any visitors to the library. The ASC expresses interest in a sculpture project that is attention-grabbing, reminds people of the importance of the library and ignites interest in Cordova Library’s various programs, resources and services. The goal of the project is to create a public art piece(s) that:

  • Creates an inviting atmosphere for library visitors

  • Draws attention to entrance of the library

  • Appeals to all ages/engages users of the library

  • References nature

  • Inspires imagination

  • Connects the services of MPLIC to support the lives of the Memphis citizens

  • Speaks to the values of MPLIC which are welcoming, helpful, fresh, fun, and transformative

NOTE: Commissioned artists are permitted to work with outside contractors to fabricate the actual work of art.