Local Artist Commissioned for Sculpture on Atlanta Beltline
Art on the Atlanta BeltLine will be adding a 23-foot tall Corinthian column, weighing over 13 tons, to its year-round art collection. Artist Phil Proctor envisioned the column, created out of railroad artifacts, to represent Atlanta’s architectural and railroad history. The structure also recalls the Corinthian columns on the façade of the former Union Station, the city’s main railroad station, demolished in 1972.
A request for proposals was released by Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) in 2012, seeking artists with metalworking experience to design a work that would act as a landmark and speak to the history of the rail corridor. Using rails, spikes, plates, switches, and rail anchors, requirements stated that the chosen work must be visible from a distance and should conceptually reference the history of the railroad. Proctor’s design was selected out of more than 20 competitive applications. The selection panel included representatives of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc., City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, the Georgia Chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and members from the arts community.
“This piece marks a new milestone for public art on the Atlanta BeltLine,” said Paul Morris, President and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. “Using the history of this rail corridor to enhance the new public realm is another step towards the fulfillment of the comprehensive Atlanta BeltLine vision.”
The project is funded through a partnership with the IIDA. “IIDA Georgia is excited to partner with the Atlanta BeltLine to capture the history of the railroad corridor through this substantial sculpture,” said chapter president Ronnie Belizaire. “Public art has a significant impact on quality of life and adds value to communities and is integral to new public realms like the Atlanta BeltLine.”
The railroad once existed as a border between neighborhoods, a birthplace of industry and the foundation of Atlanta as a trade and business hub. However, in the past decades the corridor has been subject to years of neglect, with businesses and residences facing away from the rail corridor. As the Atlanta BeltLine develops, the historic rail is being removed, giving way to a multi-use trail and transit corridor, readopting the corridor as a public amenity. This monumental sculpture represents the history of the Atlanta BeltLine as a rail corridor, preserving historic artifacts and contributing to the beautification of the corridor through public art.
“I have always been intrigued by classical architecture,” said artist Phil Proctor. “As I was researching Atlanta’s history, I noticed how the classical styles implemented in old rail stations have since been lost to war, neglect, or to make way for new steel and glass buildings. The goal of this sculpture is to celebrate the history of Atlanta and recognize the significant role of the railroad.”
The site of the sculpture will be east of the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark, along the Eastside Trail. The installation is anticipated for the end of August, in time for the launch of the 2013 Art on the Atlanta BeltLine exhibition on September 7. Art on the Atlanta BeltLine is the largest temporary public art project in Atlanta, with over 70 innovative works of performance and visual art. This exhibition positions emerging art alongside established art, with featured installations by new and returning artists. Eight miles of paved and interim hiking trails around the 22-mile Atlanta BeltLine corridor will provide the public space for the two-month long exhibition. Though the pieces showcased in this exhibition are temporary, they are complemented by Art on the Atlanta BeltLine’s year-round collection that now includes the Corinthian Column. Find more information about the temporary and year-round exhibitions at the Art on the Atlanta BeltLine website.