The Art Team, myself along with San Diego artists, Nina Karavasiles and Mario Lara, invite you to the unveiling and dedication of a new memorial honoring civil rights activist Rosa Parks at the east entrance of San Diego Mesa College on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. The Rosa Parks Memorial Project was designed for the San Diego Mesa College Transit Center and is inspired by the decisive moment when Mrs. Rosa Parks chose not to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus in 1955. With dignity and quiet strength, Mrs. Parks provided a teachable moment for all. Her act of courage initiated the now historic, Montgomery Bus Boycott, and energized the Civil Rights Movement in America. The intention of the team was to create a beautiful and contemplative place interwoven with artistic elements that honor Mrs. Parks and provide opportunities for the campus community and beyond to connect with, learn about, and appreciate her contributions.
Nina, Mario and I talked about our interesting, challenging and rewarding eighteen month journey. Mario shared that the Rosa Parks Memorial Project was not a typical art studio project and presented a variety of creative challenges. For example, he was very interested in a sculptural expression of ideas that would be appropriate for the memorial challenge. As a memorial project it presented a variety of challenges, for example, working collaboratively with a team of architects, engineers, college and District administrators and staff to develop appropriate solutions. Mario stated that public art is heavily influenced by conditions of the project site and that there was a tight footprint to work in while we juggled with a defined budget.
Nina, ProjectLead, mentioned some of the project constraints, for example, getting through the DSA (Division of State Architecture) permit approval process. Mario also acknowledged that the constraints on this project by DSA was tighter than on your typical public art projects they both worked with previously. Nina said that working within the College and District structure was problematic since neither of these entities had worked on a public art project that led to a host of unexpected challenges. We talked about how we were chosen for the project. Mario was invited along with artists in Los Angeles and San Diego by the Mesa College Project Selection Committee to submit a proposal that went through a competitive process. He invited Nina to work with him and asked me to join them as a diversity/community expert. We met initially as members of the group Public Address based in San Diego comprised of artists who create public art. As an element of our presentation packet to the committee, we collected letters of support from the San Diego NAACP, the Urban League of San Diego, The West Coast Black Publishers Association and The Pasadena San Gabriel Valley Journal.