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'Timeline' ties past to present

New sculpture in Latta Park honors past and present

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The gray days of winter in Charlotte have been struck by color thanks to "Timeline," Robert Winkler's new public sculpture in Latta Park.

COURTESY OF ARTS & SCIENCE COUNCIL
  • Courtesy of Arts & Science Council

The city's most recent publicly commissioned art project began when an entire line of trolley tracks were unearthed in 2009 during construction on East Boulevard. The tracks had been buried underground since the 1930s, when they had brought downtown folk to the city's first suburb. Not wanting this piece of history to go to waste, the Dilworth Community Development Association (DCDA) formed a committee to commission a public sculpture. They sent out a call to sculptors from North and South Carolina to create a large-scale piece for installation on the small parcel of land at the intersection of Romany and Dilworth Roads. By selling the trolley line's spikes and gathering donations, the committee raised the $30,000 it needed.

Five sculptors were chosen as finalists from over 60 applicants. Last May, Elder Gallery hosted a show featuring each finalist's proposal mock-up for the community to view. Robert Winkler won with his giant arc of rail ties.

Winkler, a sculptor from Asheville, fused rail pieces into V's and assembled them in a swirling manner akin to a DNA double helix, which is fitting given they're the literal old bones of the neighborhood. Winkler pointed the sculpture with one end toward downtown and the other toward Dilworth, a reference to the two places the rail used to connect. The heavy steel is rendered light and weightless with its sunshine yellow color and kinetic form. The piece looks fresh from every angle; the serpentine structure is a continual twist that repeatedly reveals itself to its commuter, pedestrian and jogger audiences.

Winkler said in his artist's statement that his work addresses "the conflict between the limitations imposed by our individual histories and the ability of our minds to imagine other possibilities." He physically expresses this in "Timeline": By taking something so tied to the ground and uplifting it literally and metaphorically, he honors both the past and present.

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