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DC Creates Public Art Announces Sam Gilliam for Takoma Metro Underpass Project

Monday, December 21, 2009

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) in collaboration with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) is pleased to announce that internationally renowned Washingtonian, Sam Gilliam, has been selected for the Takoma Metro Underpass public art project. The Takoma Metro Underpass public art project is an initiative to beautify a dark, unappealing underpass by placing public art to create a more inviting atmosphere for community members.

Gilliam is recognized as the foremost contemporary African-American Color Field Painter and Lyrical Abstractionist in the world. In the 1960s, Gilliam took bold declarative initiatives, making definitive imagery, inspired by the specific conditions of the African American experience. Gilliam’s extraordinary sense of color is modulated by his study of light, color and its transformative and changing dynamics. Gilliam is most widely known for the large color-stained canvases he draped and suspended from walls and ceilings. Gilliam has been creating public art installations throughout the county for more than 20 years.   

Sam Gilliam’s artwork for the Takoma Metro Station will be a beautiful, meaningful and accomplished public artwork that restores the idea of symbol. Gilliam envisions that his work, in time, will commemorate tradition and create a place where every emotion will be part of the art. The artwork, entitled From a Model to a Rainbow will be composed of hand blown, Italian glass mosaic tiles. Marble tiles will also be used, in areas as a visual offset to the Italian glass tesserae. Some areas of the artwork will project three dimensionally. The size of the artwork is 14' high by 39' wide. To ensure visibility during the day and in the evening, the entire artwork will be lit from above with appropriate mounted and placed LED light fixtures. 

A total of 132 artists submitted applications for this project. The panel reviewed these submissions and selected five semi-finalists to create site-specific proposals. The five semi-finalists were: Sam Gilliam (DC), City Arts (DC), Cheryl Foster (MD), Myklebust + Sears (WI) and Mixed Up Mosaics (NY). The panel members were:  Dan Turbitt, Marie Ringwald, Marta Reid Stewart, Andre Carley, Mona Davis, Penny Jones Napier, David Hamilton and Michael Mcbride. An artist site visit was made on September 30, 2009 and immediately following the site visit a community input session was held. The artists were in attendance and listened to the community’s comments. In addition, a Community Open House was held at the Takoma Library to view the semifinalists proposals on November 19 and 20. Approximately 125 community comments were submitted. DCCAH has allocated $250,000 of its capital budget for the fabrication and installation of Gilliam's work, which will be installed in spring 2011.   
For questions about this project, contact Deirdre Ehlen at [email protected]  or call (202) 724-5613.