Two distinguished women artists, with impressive credentials in developing public art projects - Mei-ling Hom and Jennie Shanker (working with Anna Forrester) – have been selected to create proposals for the design of “The Women’s Walkway Project,” the final element of the Fleisher Art Memorial’s enhancement initiative to make its spaces more useful and accessible. The artists - Hom and the team of Shanker and Forrester - were selected from a group of 24 artists who had been invited to submit their qualifications for review. The “Women’s Walkway Project” selections committee reviewed their credentials and previous work. The final decision to invite these finalists was based on the quality of their previous work and their ability both to address the challenge of this project and to complete it.
The artists were asked to propose designs for a walkway that will connect the buildings of the Fleisher campus leading from the historic buildings on the 700 block of Catherine Street to its newest building on the 700 block of Christian Street., via the Fleisher parking lot. The term “Women’s Walkway” acknowledges the creator and fundraising arm of this project, the Women’s Work Committee—a special committee of advocates, donors, and volunteers comprised of professional women who are committed to Fleisher’s particular brand of excellence and availability in visual arts education.
On Friday, June 17, 2005, at 10:30 a.m., Women’s Work Committee and invited guests will see and hear the proposals from the two finalists at the Fleisher Art Memorial, 719 Catharine St. Following the presentations, the winning proposal will be selected and announced.
Fleisher will also present an exhibition of the artists’ visual support materials for their proposals in the Suzanne Fleisher and Ralph Joel Roberts Gallery at Fleisher’s Center for Works on Paper, 705 Christian Street, for several days preceding the artists’ June 17th presentations, inviting community comment. Since this is a community beautification project, Fleisher officials feel the community should be part of the process. Gallery hours will begin on Monday, June 13 and run through June 17, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. A reception with the artists will take place on Thursday evening, June 16, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The exhibition of the artists’ proposals will continue into the week of June 20th, with gallery hours of 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
In developing their ideas, the artists were charged with designing a project that will honor the women who have been part of Fleisher’s history, both as artists, teachers, and leaders, as well as respecting the time-honored ways in which women work, as connectors, protectors, and mentors. Finally, the Walkway design should also connect the elements of Fleisher’s programs: students going to and from classes, and exhibitions and programs that have engaged artists and the community in a conversation that has continued for 107 years.
The location of the Women’s Walkway is planned for the eastern border of the Fleisher parking lot (currently a “fire lane”) which extends from Catherine to Christian Streets. The distance from the north entrance of the parking lot on Catherine Street along the eastern side of the lot to the Christian Street building is approximately 160 feet. The artists have also been invited to make suggestions on how the walkway might extend across Catharine Street to complete the campus connection.
In addition to the challenge of the Walkway location, the artists must also create a project that is durable and contiguous from pavement to pavement. The designs are expected to include lighting and paving, and, if possible, landscaping. They should also allow for opportunities to acknowledge donors, at many different levels, and those whom donors want to acknowledge for their commitments to and achievements in the arts. The selection committee is comprised of Fleisher’s Women’s Work Committee members: Allison Moore, Chairperson; Diane Burko, Gabriele Lee, Constance Moore, and Liz Price. Also serving on the selection committee are Penny Balkin Bach, Executive Director of the Fairmount Park Art Association; independent curator Marsha Moss; capital projects architect David A. Schultz of DAS Architects; and Fleisher’s Director, Thora Jacobson.
The Women’s Work Committee of the Fleisher Art Memorial has raised funds for this project from a wide range of individuals, and will seek the remainder of the support needed to complete it when the design is selected.