Northern Virginia is full of beautiful public artwork, from the ever-growing love signs to the murals that cover buildings around the region. Now, one of these NoVA designs is up for an international award. Back in June, Thoreau’s Ensemble, the public artwork at Colts Neck Road underpass, was selected as one of the top 100 commissioned art pieces that are integrated into public spaces for the 2020 CODAawards.
The international award program honors commissioned art placed in a variety of venues, including commercial, residential and public spaces. The top 100 selections, and eventual winners, are selected by 18 jurors renowned in the arts community. This year, the jurors choose the top 100 commissioned projects from 446 submissions located in 30 different countries.
Created by artist Ben Volta, Thoreau’s Ensemble represents the 55 miles of pathways in Reston and an inspirational quote from transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau, in which he states, “Pursue some path, however crooked and narrow, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”
The project is a part of the Public Art Master Plan for Reston, which was adopted back in 2008. Anne Delaney, executive director of Public Art Reston and project manager of Thoreau’s Ensemble, explained that the plan identifies the 25 underpasses around Reston’s trails as locations for future artwork projects.
The Colts Neck Road underpass project is the second permanent public artworks under this plan through a partnership between Public Art Reston, Reston Association and Atlantic Realty Companies.
After Public Art Reston put out an open call to artists, the selection was narrowed from 40 artists to three finalists. After Volta’s design concept was reviewed by the two committees and Reston Association Design Review Board, Delaney says they recommended Volta for the project, “based on his artistic vision, extensive experience to successfully work with the community [and] the quality of his body of work that is both powerful and colorful.”
From there, the project turned to the community for help. Delaney reached out to Dogwood Elementary, Hunters Woods Elementary, Southgate Community Center, Hunters Woods Fellowship House and Hunters Woods at Trails Edge to see if they would like to be involved in creating the artwork.
“When Ben Volta was selected, we met with the teachers, principals and directors to discuss how students and seniors would be involved,” Delaney explains. “They were all very cooperative and supportive.”
Volta held 10 workshops for students, seniors and community members to help draw the different paths seen in the design. After collecting over 700 drawings, Volta scanned the pictures and incorporated the final design into panels for installation.
“The artwork is not only meant to bring beauty and enjoyment to the community,” Delaney says. “It was also meant to connect the community to the infrastructure that is used on a daily basis for many. Now, over 550 individuals plus their families and friends can find a piece of themselves in the artwork.”
On Monday, Aug. 31, the program will announce the 10 category winners and two people’s choice winners on CODAworx and with a global media campaign.
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