Urbana Council Changes Artists For MLK Sculpture
By Chris Berube and Jim Meadows
The city of Urbana will try again to choose a sculpture to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Junior, without showing his image.
The outdoor work, to be erected in King Park, has to avoid showing the civil rights leader’s image or any quotations, so the city won’t have to pay a license fee to the King Foundation.
Massachusetts artist Douglas Kornfeld had proposed a design featuring two large steel faces, sound asleep, to allude to King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. But Urbana Public Arts Coordinator Christina McClelland says ta selection committee felt that Kornfield’s design failed to “reflect the active spirit of Dr. King’s work”.
"The committee felt that original concept sort of alluded more to the idea of sleeping than dreaming", said McClelland. "And there’s a big difference between the allusions of those two words."
On Monday night, the Urbana City Council voted without comment to end the city’s relationship with Kornfeld, and solicit a new design at a higher rate from Peoria artist Preston Jackson.
Jackson has created other outdoor sculptures on display in central Illinois, including a memorial bust of Dr. King in Danville. He also created the Frederick Douglass memorial sculpture at the Douglass Branch Library in Champaign.
Jackson is to submit his preliminary design for the work by the end of the month. If it wins approval, Urbana city officials hope to have the project completed by the end of the year.