Arlington Arts Center (AAC) and the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia are pleased to present Passage, a site-specific public artwork by artist Lynda Andrews-Barry. The work will be featured on AAC’s lawn at 3550 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington from August 22 through December 13, 2020.
Passage is the result of a unique partnership between AAC and the Community Foundation. The work was funded by the Foundation’s Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts and is undertaken in cooperation with Arlington Public Art. Passage will include 26 large-scale sculptures created from driftwood, rebar, metal hardware, and canvas sails—designed to evoke the ships that transported more than 12 million kidnapped and enslaved Africans across the Atlantic Ocean between the 16th and 19th centuries.
The artwork skillfully reflects the ways in which Virginia was implicated in, and continues to be impacted by, this history, while also grappling with the legacy of Matthew Fontaine Maury.
Known as the “Pathfinder of the Seas,” and the “Father of Oceanography,” Maury was a pioneer of naval navigation. The systems he developed for recording and charting oceanographic data revolutionized ocean navigation, drastically reducing the length of ocean voyages and allowing for more efficient trade and transport in the 19th century. A commander in the United States Navy, Maury resigned his post in 1861 to become a commander in the Confederate Navy and later Secretary of the Navy for the Confederacy. During the Civil War, Maury traveled to Europe, where he used his connections and reputation to acquire ships for the Confederacy and to lobby on its behalf with European leaders.
Arlington Arts Center’s historic building originally housed the Clarendon School, which was renamed the Maury School in 1944. The grounds surrounding the building, where Andrews-Barry’s work will be installed, continue to be known as Maury Park.
Artist Andrews-Barry has a very personal connection to the region’s past as she is descended from enslaved people who were brought to Virginia and Maryland. It was this family history that drove her to respond to Maury’s legacy. “Passage addresses power dynamics, conflict, loss, marginalization, and deterioration,” says Andrews-Barry.
Convinced that Andrews-Barry’s work would have relevance for the local community, Arlington Arts Center staff, with guidance from the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia and Arlington Public Art, selected Andrews-Barry’s proposal from a competitive pool of applicants in the fall of 2019. “Arlington Arts Center has a long history of exhibiting work that asks us to question accepted norms, and to think more deeply,” said Holly Koons, AAC’s executive director. “We found Lynda Andrews-Barry’s proposal for Passage compelling precisely because it reminded us of the history buried beneath a name, and asked us to consider its full implications. We are grateful to the artist for her bold vision, and to the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia for making this project possible.” Adds Eileen Ellsworth, President and CEO at Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, “Public art has this amazing capacity to help people reimagine the place they live. It serves as a powerful tool to educate, engage, and welcome visitors in a unique way, to break down cultural barriers, and tell our collective history.”
Passage is the result of a unique partnership between AAC and the Community Foundation. The work was funded by the Foundation’s Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts and is undertaken in cooperation with Arlington Public Art.
The Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts was launched with a legacy gift in 2018. This gift ensures this fund will become part of the Permanent Fund for Northern Virginia, forever supporting arts and culture in the region. To learn more visit Ross-Roberts Fund for the Arts.
Lynda Andrews-Barry: Passage On View: August 22 – December 13, 2020
Artist Talk: Saturday / September 26 / 2pm*
*Lynda Andrews-Barry’s artist talk will take place on the front lawn of Arlington Arts Center. Visitors will be asked to wear masks and maintain a safe six-foot distance from one another during the talk. Any updates about scheduled events will be posted to www.arlingtonartscenter.org.
PUBLIC ART INSTALLATION EXPLORES HISTORY BURIED BENEATH A NAME IN ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA PRESENTING THE WORK OF LYNDA ANDREWS-BARRY
August 20, 2020