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Last October Lucy Begg and Myself entered the Cesar Chavez Memorial Competition here in Austin. We felt it was a great proposal to work on and were excited about the possibilities, but they chose to go with a statue instead.
A statue of Cesar Chavez was recently unveiled on the UT campus. He is the first Hispanic to be remembered amongst presidents, donors and football coaches. Driving along there today you pass a mural on the side of Longs Motors. Chavez is depicted with a box of fruit and the UFW flag. Big letters spell out his popular quote - ‘Si se puede!’
Amongst these iconic statues, road name changes and murals how could another memorial contribute to the public memory of Chavez in Austin? Our proposal mobilises stories - official events of his life, anecdotes from those who knew him in Austin, details of his continuing legacy today. These would be inscribed along the length of the site outside the library. 66 L-shaped bands would form a sculptural timeline, 8ft high and 200ft long, which could be read, walked along and danced in and out of.
The memorial invites different kinds of engagement with its public, whether drivers, pedestrians, bus users or library visitors. Perhaps you drive past it each day and enjoy the momentary reflection of your car in the mirrored surfaces. One day you might step off the sidewalk and casually read some of the stories. Maybe what you learn even inspires you to check out a book about Chavez from the library.
We imagine that the timeline sculpture would be not only a collective vehicle for commemoration but also an ongoing educational resource and catalyst for actions that continue Chavez’s legacy of social justice.
Labels: AUSTIN, CESAR CHAVEZ, PARCIPATORY ART, THOUGHTBARN_INSTALLATION