The Ripple Effect
Given the selection criteria of community engagement, artistic vision, diversity, response to the environment and durability, all of the finalists seem to tick the box on the list. Although the exhibits featuring each submission was small and frankly, just a wall of text with blueprints and images detailing the artistic vision for their work, I spent a great deal rereading each submission statement and trying to imagine what they look like in conjointment with their provided images, as well as how they fit into Boston Common.
Out of the five finalists, I felt that the Ripple Effect is the best monument, followed by the Avenue of Peace. The monuments are impressive by themselves, but an important factor is how they are placed in Boston Common and how they engage the community of people who enter there on a daily basis. Boston Common is a place that I typically visit at least once a summer, and I enjoy the greenery, the flowers, the lake and swan boat ride that comes underneath the blazing hot sun. The bronze and cement statues of famous figures like George Washington, or of angels near fountains, as well as tall round structures and a playground make up the perfect definition of a community hang out spot, where we can admire history in bits and pieces, while still enjoying the space for the goodness it brings to us. That’s why adding a memorial dedicated to MLK and CSK in such an important and memorable place is a huge deal to me, since I have close ties to Boston Common.
Back to the finalists, I’ll go into Avenue of Peace, first. Aesthetically, the design is very pleasing; it has a mosaic pattern and the inclusion of olive branches, a known symbol of peace in some cultures, makes the monument seemingly park friendly. This monument is the fountain standing in the middle of an oval pool of water that allows for reflection of the environment and the people. Not to mention, the space around this fountain is said to “serve as an area for gathering.” Given how MLK and CSK were two people who met in Boston and were happily married, the oval design of the monument allows for one path to meet at the fountain on both sides, which strengthens this idea of coming together, and meeting, and to me, it’s really beautiful. What kind of throws me off, as TurnOverThisPage has mentioned in their post, is the reliance of a phone app to distribute information to the public about MLK. Parks are supposed to be about looking at nature and understanding something from it, but the phone app that the Avenue of Peace encourages people to use to understand history seems to take away from the experience of walking along the park, as opposed to simply following a lecture on foot. It tries to engage community participation, but it feels a little forced to me.
As for the Ripple Effect, which to most of everyone, is a popular choice, I happen to really like it myself. It’s a grand scale monument with cascading ripples spread across the ground, and two bells with a bridge of text. The two bells on the Beacon Towers are said to create “ripples that evoke the “ripple effect” of the words, actions and leadership of The Kings.” Given the context of MLK and his wife, the two are bells trying to call out and spread their messages across, which is well represented artistically here, and it draws people who read the messages in to know more. The bridge is also stated to be an important component of this monument, being made out of glass, it contains the history of MLK, while the surface reflects the reader as they look MLK and CSK’s history, but as at themselves. As underhill44 said, “people have to become involved by walking up to the Mound or by reading the Wall of Words.” What makes this monument a little better than Avenue of Peace, is that it doesn’t try to coerce the visitor to read, or listen. It will call, but it’s up to the person if they want to listen, if they want to reflect, and if they want to care. And that’s pretty important to think about if the builders decide to place this in Boston Common. In Boston Common where people can decide to walk, to care for the environment there and to do self-thinking, the Ripple Effect really encourages that too. It draws people willing to listen in, and teaches them that they can care about themselves, and loved ones. It combines the essence of group work and individual reflection. And in relation to MLK, the bridge that shows his timeline is stated to be left empty, showing that MLK’s past isn’t just an event from long ago that doesn’t have anything to do with us anymore, but that it still continues; we just have to make it happen.