San Antonio’s Newest Public Artwork Pays Tribute to African-American Culture

Martin Luther King Jr. Day seems like a wonderful time to reflect on civil rights, how far our country has come, and how much work remains to be done. And thanks to a local artist, residents of San Anton can engage in this reflection and celebrate African-American culture through a new public art project on the east side of town.

The City of San Antonio Department of Arts and Culture just released Thinking Spheres, a captivating sculpture created by the San Antonio artist Kaldric Dow which is now full screen at Martin Luther King Park.

The 13-foot-tall piece, which sits on a 4-foot-tall foundation, depicts a face, assembled in multiple layers, topped by a cylindrical tower of dark, reflective spheres that give the impression of hair.

Each sphere is adorned with a word that reflects common themes found in the work of Martin Luther King Jr. They include ‘dream’, ‘sincerity’, ‘bold’, ‘desire’, ‘brave’, ‘unity’, “gratitude”, “responsibility”, “devotion” and “change”.

“To me, this sculpture represents the essence of what African American culture is,” Dow says. “It was important to me to use my portrait art style to create a piece that people can relate to and see themselves portrayed in. The Spheres [create] a reflection in honor of Dr. King’s self-reflective messages, so viewers are encouraged to look within to reflect on what the words embedded in the sculpture mean to them.

The artwork, created by Dow in response to the community’s desire to tell an interpretive story, addresses local and national civil rights themes while enhancing the visitor experience of the park.

The artist also fashioned a smaller sculpture with the same name which rests at the River Walk Public Art Garden, which is located on Market Street between Alamo and Bowie streets. This piece serves as an introduction and connector to the main Martin Luther King Park installation, aimed at encouraging visitors to the River Walk to explore the larger sculpture and the surrounding parks, businesses and attractions on the east side.

Thinking Spheres is part of the Department of Arts and Culture public art program, which uses community feedback to help shape decisions about the themes, artists, and designs used in public art projects across San Antonio.

“Although this sculpture is a commemoration of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this work goes beyond that. It’s a catalyst to start a dialogue about proper representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color and social justice,” said District 2 Council Member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez.

“This is a perfect fit for the East Side of San Antonio, as we are a diverse, creative and resilient neighborhood. This is a lasting beautification project that we can all be proud of, because every day there is will enhance the experience of this park for residents and visitors.

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