Walking Sticks with Stories to Tell, a new site-specific artwork commissioned by Broward Cultural Division’s Public Art & Design Program, has been installed in Fort Lauderdale’s Sistrunk neighborhood. The sculptural installation by Washington-based artist Claudia Fitch references the traditions of West Africa and transforms a high-traffic area located at the SE corner of NW 27th Avenue near the African American Research Library and Cultural Center. It is part of the Northwest 27th Avenue Safe Streets Improvement Project, a multi-modal street design to encourage public transport, bicycling and walking.
Comprised of five, vividly hued freestanding sculptures that reflect the West African traditions of the linguist staff, ornamental hairpin, Adinkra symbols and kente cloth colors, Walking Sticks with Stories to Tell embraces the rich cultural heritage of West Africa as well as the stories of those who live, work and go to school in the Sistrunk neighborhood. During the project’s development, community outreach activities facilitated by the artist provided the underlying themes for the artwork’s concept and imagery. Among those participating in workshops were students from neighboring Dillard High School’s advanced art program.
“To create art for a public place, I engage with the community, and the many layers of story that are told by individuals, local environs and regional landscape,” said Fitch. “In this process, visual metaphors emerge, sparking the imagination and a creative process. The imagery, traditions, colors and forms in this artwork setting are staged to invite curiosity, conversation and an exquisite moment of the here and now.”
Phillip Dunlap, director of the Broward Cultural Division, which oversees the Public Art & Design Program stated, “Public art can be an important tool in celebrating and amplifying the stories of our communities. We are thrilled to bring this new artwork to Greater Fort Lauderdale.”
View more about the process of creating Walking Sticks with Stories to Tell in this video.
To see more photos, and for information about the project see also Broward Cultural Division’s Public Art Directory.
About the artist: Claudia Fitch (b. 1952, Palo Alto, CA) grew up in Seattle, Washington. She received a BFA in Painting from the University of Washington and MFA in Painting from Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Her work has been featured in exhibitions at venues including the New Museum of Contemporary Art and Socrates Sculpture Park in New York, Washington State University Museum of art, Seattle Art Museum and the Portland Art Museum. She received the NEA Fellowship in Sculpture, the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant and the Yvonne Twinning Lifetime Achievement Award. She is represented by Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle.
Video produced by Broward County Cultural Division and Trifactor.
Sculpture #1 – Community represented by young person on a bike. Kente colors: gold and green representing high worth and growth.
Sculpture #2 – Ivory hairpin with Adinkra symbol, SESA WO SUBAN, representing transformation. Kente color: blue representing harmony, peace, and love.
Sculpture #3 – Copper scorpion hairpin meaning self-sacrifice for the good of future generations.
Sculpture #4 – Panther’s head, the mascot of Dillard High School (DHS); Kente colors gold and black representing high worth and maturity. Also includes the DHS colors, blue and gray.
Sculpture #5 – Wood ornamental comb with Adinkra Symbol BOA ME NA, ME MMOA NO, meaning community, cooperation, interdependence. Kente color: maroon representing mother earth, healing.