by Van Maravalli, Public Art Project Coordinator, Metro Nashville Arts Commission
In 2013, Metro Arts commissioned internationally known, self-taught artist Thornton Dial to create a site-specific public artwork for the revitalized Edmondson Park. Named for Nashville artist William Edmondson, the park is located on Charlotte Avenue, between 16th and 17th Avenue, North. Dial’s design for Edmondson Park, Road to the Mountaintop, is composed of steel, sheet metal, and automotive paint. The industrial materials create a rich surface texture and give the sculpture a weathered appearance. After installing the artwork in July of 2014 the artist reflected on the inspiration behind Road to the Mountaintop:
“I make my art for people to learn from, but I only have made one piece to go outdoors before this one. I loved the idea that people would be driving down the street and looking at my art outdoors. More people can see it that way and maybe understand what it is that artists like me think and are trying to tell people. The piece is about Martin Luther King and Civil Rights in some ways, but it is also about the struggles that every person faces if they’re a woman or a man, a black person or a white person. We all got to struggle to get up. That’s our job, our duty.”
The park and the three public artworks sited there honor Edmondson’s historic significance as the first African-American artist to have a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in 1937 and ensure that Edmondson’s legacy will live on for many generations to come.