Fort Worth Public Art, Dallas Aurora to Illuminate Will Rogers Memorial Center with Public Art Exhibit


Get off I-30 in August and you can witness a psychedelic light show beaming out of the Fort Worth Cultural District.

Its organizers and artists ask you to come together, spend a night in the field around Pioneer Tower, and challenge yourself to think differently, not only about art, but also about the future.

“New Stories: New Futures” is the first of four major public works of art commissioned by Fort Worth Public Art. It will be held at the Will Rogers Memorial Center on August 20 and 21, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Pioneer Tower installation and adjoining exhibit, both at Will Rogers, are free and open to the public.

These major public works of art are not only designed by and for the community, but are also meant to be local and tourist attractions that define a place – like Chicago. Cloud Gate, a reflective bean-shaped sculpture that has become synonymous with the city.

“The idea is not just to have a high caliber piece of art like this, but also to have a piece of art that the public really associates with Fort Worth,” said Martha Peters, director of Fort Worth Public Art, a city-run arts initiative. Fort Worth Council.

Fort Worth Public Art, which was founded in 2001, updated its master plan in 2017 after a year-long process in which nearly 2,500 residents asked questions about public art, such as: ” Where do people congregate in Fort Worth? “

There was not one answer but four: the Cultural District, the downtown area, the Stockyards and the Trinity River.

Public art “exists so people can meet it,” so it should meet a community where it already is, said Wesley Gentle, director of advancement at the Fort Worth Arts Council. “It’s supposed to create a sense of belonging and an experience when people interact with it. “

Pioneer Tower, which stands over 200 feet tall, was a natural candidate to be the first site. The building was renovated in 2018, the opportunity to install the data, electrical and lighting cables necessary for large-scale projections.

Dallas Aurora consulted during the rehabilitation project and later became a partner for the exhibition itself. The public arts organization, founded in 2010, has held biennial art festivals featuring light, sound and video and will return to Dallas in 2023.

Although “New Stories: New Futures” is a temporary new media exhibit, it will remain in the Fort Worth Public Art Collection, so screenings may take place again in the future. Fort Worth Public Art will also document the event with photos and videos, so residents can experience it as they please online.

“Artists using technology are the way of the future. In order for our program to truly reflect what is happening in the art world, we have to evolve over time, ”said Peters.

The Pioneer Tower installation was curated by DooEun Choi, a New York-based artist who co-hosted Aurora 2018, and features Davide Quagliola, also known as Quayola, and Refik Anadol. Fort Worth City Council provided $ 930,000 in funding for the installation.

A rendering of Pioneer Tower Dreams, a screening by Refik Anadol created for New Stories: New Futures in Fort Worth.

Anadol was inspired by Blade runner and a childhood love for science fiction to create Dreams of the pioneer tower, a video and audio projection of data from local archives, libraries and museums.

“The past, present and future come together in this algorithm,” he said. “As an artist, can I dip a brush into the mind of a machine and paint Fort Worth memorabilia on a building?” In this context, light is paint and data is pigments.

Anadol described his piece as “a sculpture of data” and “a synaesthetic architecture”. For him, machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence are tools for the imagination.

Earlier this year, he called the residents of Fort Worth for their memories and received over 1,000 submissions. Memories date back to the 1930s. Some are stories written about the early days of school, while others are from local radio and television.

As an Istanbul-based, Los Angeles-based artist, Anadol said it was especially important for him to engage with Fort Worth when creating his piece. Community contributions will occupy an inordinate amount of space in the screening.

Quayola, originally from Rome and resident of London, took inspiration from the nature that defines Fort Worth to create Texas Surveys: New Pointillism, Landscape Scans and Horse Paintings.

For his piece, he built computer vision systems and custom graphics software to capture billions of data points from trees in the Fort Worth Botanical Garden and Fort Worth Natural Center, as well as a horse show at Will Rogers, to create “impressionist-type textures.”

The rhythmic gallop of a horse, for example, will become bands of brown, orange and white waves on the Pioneer Tower. His artist’s insight described the resulting “computer paintings” as both “completely abstract” and “entirely driven” by Fort Worth.

The Will Rogers Field Exhibit was curated by Lauren Cross, a Fort Worth-based artist, and features ten artists from the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It is funded in part by $ 235,000 in grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Cross, who called his involvement “obvious,” had helped craft the new Fort Worth Public Art master plan. For this curating process, she asked herself: “These stories presented by these artists, what do they encourage us to do for our future?

Jin-Ya Huang will explore the experiences of Asian and immigrant women in Fort Worth by Your lost asian sister. Inspired by her work at Break Bread, Break Borders, which economically empowers refugee women through food and storytelling, Huang’s video screening will illuminate stories that have been ‘told but not heard’.

Founder Jin-Ya Huang addresses diners ahead of the premier Break Bread, Break Borders dining event at Cafe Momentum in Dallas.
Founder Jin-Ya Huang addresses diners ahead of the premier Break Bread, Break Borders dining event at Cafe Momentum in Dallas. (Brian Maschino / Brian Maschino)

“For people who haven’t heard other points of view, they are literally hearing these stories for the first time,” she said. “When you have representation in all the different ways, people really see those possibilities happening.”

Huang will include submissions from community members on what Fort Worth has meant to them. For her, Fort Worth is “the city of luck and peace,” a Chinese translation that will be written in calligraphy for the screening.

Ciara Elle Bryant will create a screening inspired by Soul Train, Jordan ads, and other black designer visuals from the 1970s and 1980s, all of which she sees as black contributions to the times.

“When black people do it, it’s a ghetto, but when it’s appropriate and marketed in high fashion, it’s a new cultural renaissance,” said Bryant. “I wanted to talk about something very specific, related and rooted in black culture.”

Dallas artist Ciara Elle Bryant poses for a portrait in front of her installation "Server: a streaming revolution" in 2020.
Dallas artist Ciara Elle Bryant poses for a portrait in front of her installation “Server: A Streamed Revolution” in 2020.(Jeffrey McWhorter / Special Contributor)

She ultimately landed on exploring sneaker culture in her room. For Bryant, a self-proclaimed “huge sneakerhead”, it’s an accessible entry point to discuss the role of style in culture.

“There is no chic tie-up costume that tells you not to touch the artwork. You don’t have to drive completely out of your neighborhood, ”she said.

The Pioneer Tower installation and display, Anadol said, works as catalysts for open and shared conversations – those that are meant to continue beyond the two-night event.

“My hope is,” Anadol said, “it’s a campfire for the 21st century.”

Book your tickets for New Stories: New Futures on The Kimbell Art Museum will also host artist conferences on August 18 and 21.


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