Conversation Peace: Meet Midtown’s Newest Sculpture
By Kevin Box, Artist at Box Studio LLC
Note: Kevin Box’s Conversation Peace was installed at 10th and Peachtree Streets on November 11, 2021. It is the latest in Midtown Alliance’s series of temporary public art installations to occupy this corner. Midtown is home to more than 40 public art installations in a 1.2 square mile area.
Having spent summers visiting family in Georgia as a kid, it’s thrilling to have my work featured so prominently on Peachtree Street. Midtown is known to many as the epicenter of art and culture in Atlanta, and I’m delighted that Conversation Peace was selected to be part of the pedestrian experience in this vibrant district.
As I developed my practice over the last 20 years, I yearned to extend beyond museums, galleries and fine arts patrons to reach broader audiences through public art. About 10 years ago, while visiting the Atlanta Botanical Garden, my wife, Jennifer, and I shared an epiphany. We could showcase my work in the natural setting of botanical gardens and reach entire communities, including schoolchildren and families, who are at ease with experiencing art outdoors. And thus, the Origami in the Garden exhibit was born and has been featured in gardens around the country. It will be here at the Atlanta Botanical Garden beginning May 7 through October 30, 2022.
The sculpture selected by Midtown Alliance as a focal point for the Midtown Arts District draws inspiration from the game rock-paper-scissors. We all know this zero-sum game as a fun way to resolve lighthearted conflict — who gets to sit in the front seat or who gets the last piece of cake. But serious conflict requires conversation so the disputing parties might better understand each other. Conversation requires as much listening to the other as speaking your mind, and compromise is often involved in a balanced solution. As an artist, I use sculptural objects to symbolize conflicting forces that have found balance.
Conversation Peace is also a play on the phrase, “conversation piece,” meaning a piece of art or other interesting object that inspires conversation. In this sculpture, the rock-paper-scissors combination represents this kind of object. It’s a familiar grouping but with a surprising origami twist: the paper has beat the rock and scissors by folding itself into a peace crane and flying just out of reach. Through thoughtful, respectful transformation, peace has won. A timeless message that feels especially timely now.
Origami has been a consistent theme in my work. It is wonderfully accessible in its humble origins —almost anyone of any age can pick up a piece of paper and learn to fold something. Yet in the most competent hands, incredibly complex forms can be created that are awe inspiring and remarkably out of reach. To me, origami represents a philosophical Zen approach echoing many of the mystic traditions that speak of discipline, practice, mastery and magic, turning lead into gold, “seeing the light,” and all that is possible when we dedicate ourselves. The fact that so much can be said with a single uncut square of paper can, and likely will, keep my creative spirit busy for a lifetime.
Conversation Peace will be on view in Midtown at the southern end of the 10th Street Park until the summer of 2023.