LifestyleAmazon HQ2 bridging culture and community through public art

Amazon HQ2 bridging culture and community through public art

Amazon’s HQ2, the company’s corporate headquarters in the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia is working to bridge culture and community through public art at HQ2.

“Through-line” by Emma Child (Courtesy of Amazon HQ2)
“We broke ground in April of 2020,” said Peta Black, a project manager with Seneca Group, Amazon’s Q2 development partner, highlighting the company’s commitment to integrating art into its development from the outset.

Phase I of HQ2 opened to about 14,000 employees in June 2023. There, unique art installations highlight local artists, relay important narratives and unveil truths about DMV culture.

A striking example is artist Nekisha Durrett’s towering brick structure representing the tears of a community displaced in the 1940s to build the Pentagon. 

“Each teardrop corresponds to one of the original 903 citizens,” Black explained. 

Durrett’s poignant piece serves as a reminder of the area’s history and the importance of honoring it.

The initiative to showcase DMV culture and history is driven by a broader vision, as outlined by John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of Global Real Estate.

 “John’s team was very intentional about our commitment to supporting DMV-based artists as HQ2’s plans came into focus,” Amazon’s Jemila Campbell noted. “We believe that success makes us more responsible to the communities that we touch.” 

This commitment extends beyond the outdoor spaces to the interiors of Amazon’s buildings. “Pollinator’s Promise” by Cita Sadeli, also known as MISS CHELOVE, is one such indoor artwork, offering a vibrant depiction of nature’s beauty that resonates with the community. 

“It’s designed to depict the pollination of flowers and channels the beauty of nature,” said Campbell.

Both employees within the building and passersby can enjoy the artwork together, as it is exterior facing.

“Our approach to HQ2, and our North Star, is centered around art and equity,” explained Patrick Phillipi, Amazon’s Senior Manager of Community Engagement. “That’s what you saw with Queen City at the center of Met[ropolitan] Park and in the Museum of Contemporary Arts Innovation Studio, which holds community inside of one of our buildings,” he elaborated.

Baltimore-based artist Emma Childs’ series of paintings bridges the history of abstractionists, with a bold and innovative process of customizing her canvases. The geometric fluidity of her work, and ability to manipulate color, added a certain level of panache to the wing of Amazon’s HQ2 where her pentaptych works reside.

“Queen City” by the artist Nekisha Durrett (Courtesy of Amazon HQ2)
Amazon’s efforts to blend art with its corporate presence have led to the establishment of the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s satellite outpost. 

This space not only showcases art but also offers a platform for artists to engage with the community and for the community to immerse themselves in contemporary art.

“Here we have free art-making anytime… and we have a short-term reserve,” explained Executive Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington’s Catie Anchine. 

As Amazon continues to shape its headquarters in Arlington, the integration of public art stands as a testament to the company’s vision of creating a space where technology and culture converge. The result is a dynamic environment that not only fosters innovation but also enriches the community’s cultural landscape.

Source: Washington Informer

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