"Journey of Hope" design to bring message of hope, equality and freedom to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd intersection
It took three votes, and roughly an hour of debate, but a design by multimedia artist Cecilia Lueza that embodies the concepts of dreams, hope and civil rights will be constructed at the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevards.
The design won in a 6-4 vote on Monday, January 24. The selection committee was composed of members of Fort Myers’ Public Art Committee and representatives of the Community Redevelopment Agency, The Lee County Black History Society, and the Dunbar community.
Lueza is an Argentine American artist and sculptor living in St. Petersburg, Florida. She has been working on a variety of public art projects since 2000 and says that the “place-making” aspect of the gateway artwork project drew her to submit a design.
“I want to inspire the public, too," said Lueza. "I want them to look at this artwork and feel uplifted, inspired, and feel like they can also achieve all their dreams if they persist enough.”
Lueza says the goal of the sculpture, tentatively titled “Journey of Hope,” is to capture achievement of justice and equality. Achievements accomplished by Southwest Florida’s own visionary Veronica Shoemaker.
“The sculpture is composed of two main pieces," said Lueza. "Once is a profile of an African American woman. She’s looking up with determination, with yearning and determination in her eyes as a way to symbolize hope and dreams of our future.”
The element that helps the sculpture really pop from the lush, green landscape surrounding it is a sunburst background for the woman’s profile. Lueza says the backdrop symbolizes the arrival of a new day, where equality and freedom will prevail.
“The title of the piece is “Journey of Hope,” so the sunburst will be a clear realization of the final destination," said Lueza.
Overall, the installation will stand about 20 feet tall. And since the site for the gateway artwork has no electrical hook-ups, Lueza plans to install a 200-watt self-sustained solar lighting system with LED fixtures to illuminate the sculpture after the sun sets.
The cost of the sculpture, including the artist’s fee, is $98,500.
Charles Barnes, Chairman of The Lee County Black History Society, voted in favor of Lueza’s design. He says he feels “very good” about the sculpture and the impact it’ll have on Black youth in Southwest Florida.
“Our kids always need those things to inspire them, always need those things that talks about the history, the legacy of us as a people," said Barnes.
"It’s just wonderful that these things are happening, so our youth can definitely keep just getting the knowledge and getting that history about the accomplishment that we did locally and also nationally.”
The gateway sculpture is scheduled to be fabricated and installed late this spring or early summer.
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