Author: Jason Jackson
Title: Intertwining: Weaving Our Social Fabric
Category: Justice & equity
Description: Narrative and Inspiration Throughout history, Memphis has sat at a crossroads. More than concrete and water, an intersection of people and ideas, races, and faiths coming together to do something magical. While we may have different origins and destinations, for a moment, we all share this journey together. Intertwining is a 200 ft long suspended sculpture that greets and wishes good travels to passengers in the renovated Memphis International Airport’s main concourse. Social justice is at the core of our team’s work and the inspiration behind this art installation. The tragic death of George Floyd Jr. shook our nation and awakened a movement for justice that underlined the importance of the theme of this project honoring the individual stories and the resiliency of our nation. Our own Memphis has been resilient since its beginnings and there has been tension all along. However, tension is fundamental to making something stronger. As a metaphor, we chose “a tapestry in the making” to represent with threads the value of every individual; and the weaving of the threads interconnecting with tension representing the power of the collective. Art and architecture are together a transformative tool, one of collaboration, intersection, and social justice. The acrylic threads of the suspended sculpture create a gradual welcoming transition into the overall experience of a tapestry in the making. Referencing from Native American textiles (our indigenous group Chickasaw, in this region, with basket weaving and quilting) to African textiles, and many other countries around the world. This is a symbol of accessibility and inclusivity that represents our heart, hospitality, and hustle. Our generosity, diversity, and creativity. Our innovation, determination, and collaboration. Our sound, style, and spirit; in all, the modern diverse Memphis of today. Memphis International Airport (MEM) connects people, places, and stories while celebrating our strength through diversity. Intertwining gives life to that vision, embracing the airport's role in fostering positive social change locally and globally. A popular and dynamic feature visually expressing our social fabric. This is our soul. As the soul guides us and our great city on this collective journey, we recognize that our travels are never truly complete. Neither is Intertwining, as the art installation shows our past and present threads, with our future waiting to be woven. A future invitation is extended for the possibilities of a better today and a better tomorrow. Design Team and Engagement Process The design team included, Yancy Villa, a civic leader and socially engaged artist and Kennedy Center Citizen Artist fellow, Jason Jackson, principal and lead design architect at brg3s, and the “2019 AIA Young Architects Award Recipient” and Susan Golden, brg3s’ principal and project manager. As a team, we combined decades of experience in public art and community engagement centered on connecting the diversity of art, design, and architecture to deliver powerful results. Through our multifaceted expertise, artistry, and skill, along with our deep passion for Memphis and dedication to complete this innovative sculpture supporting small, local, women, and minority-owned partners along the way. The engagement process included multiple meetings with diverse stakeholders. Because of the venue’s particular characteristics and the type of project, extensive research, and in-depth interviews took place with many artists and community members. The pandemic made it harder to engage people traditionally; however, we ensured that we identified symbols and inspiring, uplifting, and timeless stories.