The public art project titled A Monumental Journey will commemorate a piece of Iowa history unknown to most Iowans. It was here—Des Moines, Iowa, in 1925 — that pioneering African-American attorneys founded the National Bar Association after being denied membership in the American Bar Association. This important Iowa event had a permanent and profound impact upon our entire nation.
The artist Kerry James Marshall was inspired by the talking drums of West Africa. There, African drummers communicated complex messages over vast distances by simply varying the pitch of the drum and using tone to mimic patterns of speech.
With the concept of one drum-form precariously stacked upon the other, the artist has created a powerful physical and poetic expression. The large-scale sculpture embodies the notion of communication among diverse peoples and a legal system that — though not perfect — strives to be balanced.
A Monumental Journey will stand 30-feet high and be constructed of black manganese brick. The project is commissioned by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation.