By Libby Lynn
Durham artist Alvin Frega (whose work you might recognize in the fantastic handrails on the deck of Parker & Otis), along with artists Michael Waller, Leah Foushee and two NCCU interns (Jorge Gonzales and me), will be unveiling the first three of six outdoor sculptures that will also function as historic markers and public benches on Parrish Street in downtown Durham. The ceremony begins at 11am, Wednesday, October 15th along Parrish Street. The event is free and open to the public.
The project is headed by The Parrish Street Advocacy Group and the City of Durham, and each sculpture commemorates different legacies and achievements of the “Black Wall Street” era of Parrish Street during the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
From the press release:
“The sculptures are comprised of significant materials from Durham’s tobacco, retail, manufacturing, and transportation industries, as well as materials such as bronze, concrete, limestone, aluminum, glass, and steel. Through materials and design, the artists are commemorating the following, historically significant themes: Tobacco and E. J. Parrish (1865-1890), Visionary Leadership in the New South (1890 – 1915), and A Black Capital for the World to See (1915-1945).”
Helping with this project is a hands-on opportunity to learn about this history of Durham’s black leaders and businesses. Working at Liberty Arts (where all of the project’s bronze pieces are cast) and at Al Frega’s crazy metal shop on Alston Avenue has been a great way to get our hands dirty and learn a lot of sculptural skills – like oxyacetylene welding, and a lot of brainstorming and sketching ideas for the three remaining sculptures, which will be unveiled this coming Spring.