August 31, 2017  |   Feature,   Local,   News
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Des Moines, IA (31 August 2017) — The Polk County Board of Supervisors has authorized a $100,000 Community Development Grant, Polk County, Iowa to the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation to support a public art project titled “A Monumental Journey.”

Public Art Foundation (PAF) and Polk County, Iowa officials gathered to award $100,000 to “A Monumental Journey” public art project. From left, Kim Walker, Kristi Lund Lozier, Pam Bass-Bookey, Steve Van Oort, Angela Connolly, Katherine M. Murphy, Dr. Mary Chapman, Robert Brownell, M. Jessica Rowe, John F. Mauro, and Tom Hockensmith.

“A Monumental Journey” is a large-scale sculpture, designed by acclaimed American artist Kerry James Marshall. The project honors the legacy of 12 African American lawyers, five of whom were from Iowa. These pioneering attorneys, dedicated to fighting segregation and racism, founded the National Bar Association in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1925. Their efforts had a profound and permanent impact on our nation at a time that excluded African-American lawyers from mainstream society and the legal profession. “A Monumental Journey” will memorialize this historic achievement.

The Community Development Grant will assist with the fabrication and installation of “A Monumental Journey.” It will be located along the Principal Riverwalk at Hansen Triangle Park, bordered by Grand and 2nd Avenues, in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The project will be open and accessible to all citizens and visitors.

“Angela Connolly, Polk County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair said “the Board of Supervisors are proud to support this project to honor the important work accomplished by this group of lawyers to fight segregation and racism.”

The Public Art Foundation supports integrating art in public spaces within the community through public and private collaborations. It is dedicated to envisioning, developing, advancing, and promoting public art projects.

“The generous contribution from Polk County, Iowa reflects the importance of public art in our community,” said Katherine Murphy, President, Public Art Foundation Board of Directors. “The gift allows us to place realize this extraordinary public art project, as well as move us closer to our goal of becoming a world-class destination for public art.”



A Monumental Journey is a public art project developed 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. The shape of African talking drums inspired the sculpture. The artist used this form to represent the notion of communication among diverse peoples and our legal system, while not perfect and striving to be balanced. Constructed of Manganese Black brick, the public art project will stand approximately 30 feet high.


Kerry James Marshall is one of the most celebrated artists currently working in the United States. Marshall, who is a MacArthur Foundation “genius grantee,” has exhibited widely in both this country and around the world. Over the course of almost three decades, Kerry James Marshall has produced a complex body of work exploring the representation of African Americans in society, culture and art history. Marshall explores the experiences of African-Americans and the narratives of American history that have often excluded black people. His large-scale paintings, sculptures, and other objects often deal with the effects of the Civil Rights movement on domestic life, in addition to working with elements of popular culture.

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