A culture’s history is told through art. Architecture, paintings, ceramics, mosaics and jewelry all help us understand ancient and/or lost civilizations. And it’s true for obelisks as well. An obelisk is typically a stone pillar featuring a square or rectangular cross-section matched with a pyramidal top. Often left as a monument or landmark, obelisks can be found that date back to the 11th Century BC.
On Sept. 4, in conjunction with St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary, 25 eight-foot-tall obelisks, created by mostly local artists, will be celebrated at a grand opening event at Flagler College’s Crisp-Ellert Art Museum, 48 Sevilla St. Officially called Obelisk Art 450 Tour of Compassion, the public art project will be on display at Flagler College’s Crisp-Ellert Art Museum through Sept. 18. The project was privately funded by area sponsors and produced by Compassionate St. Augustine — a local group that advocates the charter of compassion.
“The artists have risen above our expectations, completing magical and meaningful work that has truly taken to heart the overarching goals of this project. Obelisk Art 450 (OA450) is meant to inspire people to think in-depth about the four pillars: democracy, human rights, freedom, and compassion as well as The Golden Rule, which was the primary impetus that brought the Charter for Compassion into being,” says Cabeth Cornelius, the project manager and curator. “St. Augustine seems to have embraced being a Compassionate City; it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to be able to work with Caren Goldman and the rest of the Compassionate St. Augustine OA450 team: James VandeBerg, Rev. Ted Voorhees, Ann Roark, Ervin Bullock, Joel Bagnal and Diane Mataraza.”
The obelisks are replicas of the 30-foot Monumento de la Constitución, a monument erected in 1813 in downtown St. Augustine’s Plaza de la Constitución founded on the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and compassion.
Some of the featured artists involved in the Obelisk Art 450 Tour of Compassion include Don Trousdell, Cecilia Lueza, Debi James, Heather Blanton, Xavier Brunet, Sylvi Herrick and Yarn Bomb Jax, as well as local school children, who crafted 28 smaller, wooden obelisks.
Folio Weekly caught up with eight of the Northeast Florida-based creators to learn a bit about their obelisk and the inspiration behind it.
See sidebar to the left to click on our interviews with the eight artists.