Photo Courtesy of  Substance Architecture

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Kerry James Marshall A MONUMENTAL JOURNEY

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.

Computer generated view of  A Monumental Journey. Site rendering courtesy of substance architecture.

Project Purpose

To preserve the legacy of African-American lawyers who, in 1925, founded and incorporated the National Bar Association, fully dedicated to civil rights, justice and equality in the legal system.

Visit the A Monumental Journey page to learn more.

Project Goal

To raise $1 million to create an inspiring world-class public art project that memorializes the founders of the National Bar Association.

Kerry James Marshall

A MacArthur Foundation “genius grantee,” the artist has reached international fame for paintings, sculpture, collage, video and photography that comment on the history of black identity both in the United States and in Western art. He explores issues of race through imagery ranging from abstraction to comics.

Visit his artist page to learn more.

Give today!

Help memorialize this historic achievement by giving today.

Your tax deductible contribution will positively impact the lives of thousands of people and build support and awareness of public art. Public art project sponsorship offers significant philanthropic and marketing opportunities.

Media Kit Available

The following PDFs are available for download, printing and distribution.

Additional Information

The following PDFs are available for download, printing and distribution.

Large Gifts for A Monumental Journey

City of Des Moines

Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

Kerry James Marshall

Prairie Meadows

MidAmerican Energy Company

Polk County

Bravo Greater Des Moines, Inc.

William C. Knapp Charitable Foundation

Sharon and Kyle J. Krause

Substance Architecture, LLC

Bankers Trust Company

Pamela Bass-Bookey and Harry Bookey

Community Foundation Leadership Fund

Essex Meadows, Inc.

Martha J. and Ralph Gross

Fred and Charlotte Hubbell Foundation

Iowa State Bank

Mary and John Pappajohn

Principal Financial Group

Jim and Patty Cownie

W.T. and Edna M. Dahl Trust

Trudy Holman Hurd and G. David Hurd

Rusty Hubbell Family Fund

NAACP, Iowa-Nebraska

Anastasia Polydoran

Riley Family Fund

Seedorff Masonry

Kimberly Chauncey and Dr. Craig Shadur

Townsend Vision, Inc

Emily and Fred W. Weitz

Wells Fargo Foundation

Bank of the West

Drake University Law School

EMC Insurance Companies

Jean and Kim Walker and Faegre Baker Daniels

Iowa State Bar Association

Darren R. Jirsa, DDS

Kristi Lund Lozier and Willam H. Lozier

Jacqueline and  Odell G. McGhee II

National Bar Institute, Inc.

Tim Hickman and Frank Vaia




American Enterprise Group Charitable Fund

American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co.

The Honorable Romonda D. Belcher

Belin McCormick Attorneys at Law

Brick, Gentry, Bowers, Swartz, and Levis, P.C.

Dory L. Briles

Carney & Appleby, P.L.C.

Linda Carter

Mary Sconiers Chapman, Ed. D.

Susan M. Fitzsimmons and Jake Christensen

Conlin Family Iowa Charitable Giving Foundation

Crowfoot Pollak Community Fund

Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.

Des Moines Chapter of Links, Inc.

Dickinson, Mackaman, Tyler & Hagen, P.C.

J. Michael Earley

Paula Feltner and Dr. Michael Eberle

Lois and Louis Fingerman

The Honorable Wayne W. Ford

Nolden Gentry

Randall H. Hamilton, MD and Bruce Hughes, MD

Hy-Vee Food Stores, Inc.

Khalid A. Khan

Paul M. Lisnek & Associates, Inc.

Lincoln Inne of Court

The Honorable Matt McCoy

Patricia McFarland

The Honorable Helen Miller

Katherine Murphy

National Association of Bench and Bar Spouses Foundation

Rolland “Bud” W. Nelson

Nyemaster Goode, P.C.

Law Office of Roger P. Owens, P.C.

Polk County Auditor

Watson Powell Fund

R. Lucia Riddle

Kathy and Ted M. Stuart

M. Jessica Rowe and Thomas T. Tarbox

Diann Wilder-Tomlinson

Willis Auto Campus

Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation

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