Duality, a 9-foot bronze sculpture depicting an arm extended two inches, may mean something. It depends on how you look at it.
The sculpture was unveiled last week as part of a growing public art collection for The Underline, a $140 million park and ride line that runs under the Miami Metrorail. “Duality” is the work of Hank Willis Thomas, a renowned conceptual artist known for promoting issues of gender, identity and popular culture. His most famous works include the gigantic Afro Hair Tunnel and the “Hug” 20-foot monument to Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott, embracing King that sparked controversy and intrigue on the Internet.
Imprinted with his arm stands a sculpture by Thomas Brickell in the now completed section of the Backyard Garden, at the corner of SW 7th Street and SW 1st Court. Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Underline board member Debbie Braman Wechsler, and the Braman Family Foundation.
A crowd listens to a conversation between Victoria Rogers, vice president of arts at the Horse Foundation, and artist Hank Willis Thomas at the unveiling of his sculpture “Duality” at The Underline on May 17.
Meg Daly, founder of Friends of The Underline, who came up with the idea of a linear park, said she especially loves how “duality” can be interpreted in so many ways by someone who sees it. For her, it’s a 70s peace sign. For Gen Z, it’s an Instagram pose.
“We are so grateful that we found this part of the venue,” said Daly. “Believe me, we looked at a lot of things. When you know you’ve found magic, it’s unbreakable. He is victorious.”
“Duality” is Underline’s second ongoing art, along with Cara Despain’s “Water/Board” sculpture that doubles as a painting board. Other temporary works include a playful garden sculpture by Typoe, a mural inspired by Plato’s Cave by Edny Jean Joseph, and a spray painting of birds and corals by Jennifer Basile.
Thomas made the sculpture last year for an exhibition exploring the multifaceted ways of looking at things, he said. Rather than sticking to one concrete meaning, “Duality” invites multiple meanings. He thinks about how people can see the same symbol from different perspectives.
At the door, Thomas said he was excited to see his hands at the start of the Underline 10-mile run.
“I hope so [los espectadores] They take away the importance of making art and presenting it in a public space,” he said. “Underline power is that this space, which has been in the public eye for so long, through the introduction of arts and culture programming and landscaping, is now beautiful and welcoming and exciting and cool.”
Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation Vice President of the Arts; concept artist Hank Willis Thomas, and Meg Daly, creator of the Underline, to discover the ongoing “duality” at home at The Underline. The sculpture of St. Thomas refers to how the same symbol can be interpreted in different ways.
A few years ago, there was nothing close to the shadow of Metrorail. It now features landscaped gardens, trails, outdoor tours, native plants and dominoes. The entire project completed a total of 10 miles of construction.
Finding the right sculpture for the part of the Underline that crosses the Miami River was like looking at “the color of the stars,” Daly said. For three years, the Underline team searched for a single piece of art that would represent a connection between communities. He said that the “duality” was perfect.
He hopes that works like “duality” will encourage people to return to Underline.
“When you’re in a public space, it’s a feeling of transcendence,” Daly said. “I think art is an important moment.”
This article was produced with the financial support of the Pérez Family Foundation, in association with Journalist Funding Partners, as part of the grant program for independent journalism. The Miami Herald maintains a full editorial of this work.