+ Installed at Smothers Elementary School, Washington DC
+ Commissioned by the Washington DC Government, Department of General Services, Percent for Art
Engineering: Mathew Daw, SGH
Fabrication + Installation: Elemental Metalworks
Thanks to Sandy Bellamy and the teachers and students of Smothers Elementary School
INTERTWINED! is an interactive, playable public artwork installed in the school playground. As a hub of vibrantly colored steel drums, INTERTWINED! is a playful topography that students can use for climbing, hopping, sitting, nestling, stretching and socializing. A sea of color, the artwork is a series of lively steppes and stages. Like colorful islands rising from the playground, INTERTWINED! provides an exciting, colorful terrain that sparks students' imaginations to discover and engage.
Following the theme of weaving embedded in the building renovation’s design and seen physically in the woven graphics dancing across the playground’s floor, INTERTWINED! expands on this idea of interlacing different parts. Inspired by the legacy of Henry Smothers, whom the school honors and is named after, in his fight and success to uplift, empower and support African American students in the DC area, INTERTWINED! reinforces this idea of strengthening through connection, through interweaving. The sculpture celebrates both the significant history and impact of Smothers Elementary during darker times of institutional racism and segregation — as a place of community, light, and meaning — and rejoices in diversity and togetherness amidst today’s social justice movements.
Different colors weave across the steel tops and the vertical sides of the sculpture, ambling across the artwork. The steppes of the sculpture also physically express the theme of weaving by increasing successively in height, creating a kind of interconnected stairway, a monument of sorts. As a structure to play and gather, INTERTWINED! encourages empowerment through exploration and engagement.