Studio William Cochran - Catalytic Public Art for American Downtowns
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The Shining Dark, Baltimore      
 
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The Shining Dark, Baltimore -
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The Shining Dark - Cochran Studio worked closely with the Maryland Transit Administration, community residents and stakeholders to develop an elevated public artwork for West Baltimore. The artwork is a landmark designed to foster neighborhood reconnection and revitalization.

Strong, close-knit neighborhoods once filled this area. These neighborhoods became the path of least resistance for an enormous highway project that sawed West Baltimore down the middle, destroying a thousand vibrant homes and businesses, causing tremendous displacement and disinvestment, and ending the sense of community that had shaped the streets for decades.

The West Baltimore MARC Parking Expansion & Enhancements Project was underway to create new commuter parking lots along the scar left by the demolition of the infamous "Highway to Nowhere." The Maryland Transit Administration set aside a small pool of funds to create a public artwork for the neighborhoods. A community selection panel headed by Community Outreach and Development Coordinator Staycie Francisco chose the team of William and Teresa Cochran for the work, based in part on a vision William proposed to leverage available funds through community engagement.

Following a lengthy collaborative process with surrounding communities, special streamlined light poles were installed with a dozen elevated sculptural installations of colorful art glass above the West Baltimore MARC Station parking lots. Each connects to one of twelve artistic marker stones set in brick columns along Franklin, Mulberry, and Payson Streets.

The marker stones honor “Stories of Strength” from West Baltimore gathered by the artist in collaboration with Heritage Baltimore, community historians and the community itself. The artwork pays tribute to West Baltimore by reclaiming and foregrounding true accounts of individuals, groups, or events that exemplified the highest character of these neighborhoods.

In response to the community's requests, the three block long elevated work provides a landmark to reconnect neighborhoods across the the scar left by the "Highway to Nowhere," to strengthen neighborhood identity and to support evening and weekend use of the parking lots for community event space.

       

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