If you're downtown this Thursday, July 1, make sure to look up.
A major public art installation is being unveiled at Richmond City Hall at noon which will be the largest public art installation on a municipal building in the country using augmented reality.
The second installment of the Freedom Constellations project, the temporary installation features two 160-foot-tall portraits of Ta’Dreama McBride and Clyde Walker made in collaboration with artist and Performing Statistics Creative Director Mark Strandquist.
McBride and Walker are youth leaders from RISE for Youth, a state campaign that "promotes the creation of healthy communities and community-based alternatives to youth incarceration," according to an email from organizers. And the cool part: The portraits will come alive using augmented reality when viewers hover their phones over the portraits from a distance.
“Ensuring young people live in thriving communities and receive the help they need rather than harsh punishment for their mistakes is what RISE for Youth is all about," says Executive Director of RISE for Youth Valerie Slater in a release. "And we will continue to provide collaborative opportunities for our youth to lead the work of shaping a bold new future full of hope and free of youth prisons.”
Performing Statistics is a national cultural organizing project based in Richmond "that uses art to model, imagine, and advocate for alternatives to youth incarceration. They work with youth impacted by the juvenile justice system in the United States to illustrate and build a world where no youth are locked up."
They were invited by the City of Richmond’s Mayor’s Office and Department of Human Services to install the project at City Hall, according to the release. The installation will remain through Nov. 30, 2021.
“Covering the sides of city hall with interactive portraits of youth fighting to create a Richmond where all youth are free is exactly the kind of monumental public art that Richmond needs in this moment,” says Mark Strandquist, lead artist for the project and creative director at Performing Statistics. “These young leaders have given us all a huge gift. To build the beautiful future they deserve we must collectively imagine it, illustrate it, and design it, and youth need to be part of that process. They’ve shared a blueprint for a Richmond where all youth have the support they deserve. It’s up to all of us to help make that future a reality.”
The release also notes that "though the portraits will be visible for miles away, the augmented reality can be viewed on the northwest corner of 9th Street and Marshall Street, directly in front of the John Marshall House whose mission is to, 'engage the public about the life and legacies of the Great Chief Justice, his Richmond home, and the enslaved people who labored here through historic preservation and education,' according to their website."
“We were immediately excited to host this project because this house is where Chief Justice John Marshall deliberated cases that would ultimately shape and codify the American judicial system, with its flaws and inequity steeped in racism,” says Director of Museum Operations and Education Jennifer Hurst-Wender in the release. “We find common ground with this project as we embrace an unflinching examination of history and seek ways to work together towards a more just and equitable future.”
Performing Statistics is hosting a rally for the unveiling of the project at noon on Thursday, July 1 where the public "will hear more about the project, learn about community and city efforts to engage youth, watch a demo of the augmented reality experience, and hear from youth leaders from RISE for Youth."
To learn more about Performing Statistics, please visit www.performingstatistics.org.