Now Open: Waterfront Art Reflects African American History in Alexandria


Forged, Knitted, Plowing, Legacy, the second of Site See: New Views in Old Town Pubic Art Series presents the work of Olalekan Jeyifous. (Photo: City of Alexandria)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The City of Alexandria presents its brand new waterfront art installation, Wrought, Knit, Labors, Legacies, in Alexandria Waterfront Park (1 Prince St.). This new temporary installation is the second of the See the site: new sights in the old town annual series of public art, and will be exhibited until November 2020. It follows the 2019 edition of SOFTlab Mirror mirror installation.

Forged, Knitted, Works, Inheritance presents the African-American history of Alexandria through the prism of the city’s merchant and manufacturing industries from the 17th to the 20th century. Once a thriving port city that was home to one of the country’s largest national slave trading companies, Alexandria was a major center for shipping and manufacturing with an economy inextricably linked to the labor of slave and free African Americans. A floor mural echoes African-American quilting and textile traditions by using icons that represent some of Alexandria’s historic industries: fishing, flour, tobacco, and railroads. From this colorful surface, four large ornate metal profiles face the water and are enveloped in sculptural seating lit by low light.

In the fall, a series of commissioned performances inspired by Forged, Knitted, Works, Inheritance will complete the artistic installation of Waterfront Park. The series will feature poets and speech artists curated by the Poet Laureate of Alexandria KaNikki Jakarta, as well as movement-based performances by Tariq O’Meally. Performances will follow applicable physical distancing and health guidelines. the Site View The temporary public art and performance series showcases Waterfront Park as civic space and is informed by the historic waterfront and the neighboring community. Olalekan Jeyifous was commissioned to create this site-specific original work and was selected by a community working group with the approval of the Alexandria Arts Commission.

The art was installed in late March, but due to COVID-19 health guidelines, it remained closed to the public until Alexandria entered phase three of the “Forward Virginia” plan.

the Alexandria Department of Health (AHD) reminds everyone that there is still community spread of COVID-19. People can get the virus when they touch contaminated objects and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes, as well as when they come in close contact with other people who may have the virus. Everyone must weigh the risks and benefits of going out in public and using public parks. The risks include contracting the disease and becoming seriously ill, as well as the potential for the virus to spread among family and household members who may be at high risk (for example, the elderly and those with ill health. underlying). The benefits include the physical, mental, and emotional rewards of getting outside and being physically active.

People should only visit parks and public places if they are not sick. They must frequently use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. According to CDC Tips, AHD reminds everyone that face covers are essential when physical distancing is not possible, but they should not be used by children under 2 years of age or by anyone with difficulty breathing. AHD advises families to only visit public places with little traffic and to stay 6 feet away from those outside their homes.

Visit alexandriava.gov/PublicArt for more information on Forged, Knitted, Works, Inheritance, the Site View project, and for a list of upcoming shows and events.

RELATED: Waterfront Art Project reflects the African-American journey


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