TribLive: Public invited to participate in interactive Juneteenth art display at ARP

Public invited to participate in interactive Juneteenth art display at Aspinwall park

Tawnya Panizzi

A public art display this week at Aspinwall Riverfront Park will honor and raise awareness of Juneteenth, the holiday that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, that was recently signed into law as a federal holiday by President Biden.

Entitled “Opening Doors,” the artwork was conceived by park Founder Susan Crookston and suggests the notions of freedom and equality through the use of fencing, flowers and fabric.

“At the center of our park’s values has been a focus on inclusion and being welcoming to all,” Board Member Trish Klatt said. “We hope this artwork enhances the feeling and invites people to dream of a better community for all.”

Squares of red fabric that resemble stained glass were sewn together and hung at the entrance to the park’s Welcome Center. Upon the squares are written quotes from historic leaders, such as Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Desmond Tutu and former President Barack Obama.

“The color of the holiday is red, and the fabric is designed to look to look like quilted bricks on which the movement towards freedom and equality is built,” Crookston said.

Sporadic gold pieces symbolize future leaders, and white flowers woven throughout the piece symbolize the joy and resilience of the Black community, leaders said.

Crookston said her grandparents took part in the Underground Railroad generations ago.

“During that time, quilts with specific patterns would be hung on clotheslines or over railings to symbolize a safe house,” she said. “Others quilt patterns symbolized escape routes for slaves leaving plantations.

“In this same vein, we want the park to be a refuge and welcoming space for all.”

The artwork was constructed with the help of volunteers including high school student Monica Chen, who said it was a privilege to participate in its creation.

Park Board Member Winfred Frazier said that “as an African American who lived in Galveston, Texas, I want to convey that our history is part of all of us.

“Juneteenth celebrates the start of freedom and the struggle for equal rights that African Americans still fight for to this day,” Frazier said.

The public can take part in the art display by using the chalkboard painted doors to write their dreams for the country or a quote they find inspirational.

Crookston said the doors and all its sentiments symbolize the opening of a path to a new chapter of American history.

“The society we create is not an accident,” she said. “When we dream alone, it’s only a dream. When we dream with others it’s the beginning of reality.”

“Opening Doors” will remain at the park through the end of the week.