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Cold Weather Convos

Winter Stations 2020 is meant to draw Torontonians to the beach
Winners of the sixth annual Winter Stations Design Competition will once again grace the beaches of east Toronto beginning February 17. The three winning installations will be joined by a fourth from the local Centennial College. This year’s theme was Beyond the Five Senses, and organizers asked the 273 entrants to create freestanding pavilions that either engaged visitors’ senses and connection to the environment or distorted it. To that end, here are this year’s winners, which each aim to encourage visitors to explore and discuss an under-used section of Toronto in the winter. Kaleidoscope of the Senses, by Charlie Sutherland of Sutherland Hussey Harris (SUHUHA), reimagines the typical lifeguard chair as a carefully balanced sculpture. The horizontal bar laid across the structure’s center frames the horizon across the water, while the sounds of a bell, and the smells of aromatic oils are dispersed around the pavilion, engaging all five senses. Noodle Feed, by iheartblob, uses an accompanying augmented reality app to let visitors drop drawings, photos, and notes at the installation, transcending the physical world. Noodle Feed’s sinuous tubes will be made from rough, repurposed sailcloth, and passerby can rearrange the cushioned noodles to form different arrangements. Mirage, top, by Cristina Vega and Pablo Losa Fontangordo, is aptly named; the reflective yellow sphere either shows a bright rising sun diffusing light across the snow, or a setting red sun, depending on the angle one approaches it from. Only by actually getting close to the installation can one discern that it’s just a reflective disc. Finally, The Beach's Percussion Ensemble from Centennial College, will arrange three stacked wooden columns in a circle around a central steel drum. Graffiti artists will have free reign to decorate the piece, and visitors can play with the drum as wind from the nearby lake triggers the bells that will hang from each structure.
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Bâtiments Mutants

The Architectural Beast distorts architectural imagery at the FRAC Biennale
For the 2019 Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain (FRAC) Biennale in Orléans, France, SCI-Arc director Hernan Diaz-Alonso curated The Architectural Beast, an installation featuring 17 contemporary artists and architects. Together with Diaz-Alonso, Los Angeles-based designer Casey Rehm co-produced the installation: 12 paired video screens that nod towards Marcel Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (or The Large Glass installation). The top panel exhibits printed images the artists have selected to represent their work, while the lower screens show that same imagery being transformed by artificial intelligence software developed by Rehm. Also named The Architectural Beast, the software was designed to independently alter the imagery presented over the course of the three-month installation. According to Rehm, the program's AI is "initially trained on curated datasets of images and texts of the artists representing an institutional understanding of architecture, to an understanding of architecture of populist valuation." The AI, in other words, spends each night conducting image searches for the day's most popular architectural images and then uses the results to manipulate the original imagery. "By the second month of its life," Rehm explains, "it should cross the 50 percent line of curated artist and internet images in its network."
"Through artificial intelligence," wrote Diaz-Alonso in the installation description, "the work featured will be exposed to a perpetual state of transformation and mutation. The exhibition gathers a key set of practices, primarily from architecture, but also from art and fashion, to reveal facets of the strange beast that the tumultuous paradigm shifts of recent decades have left behind." The AI also uploads the imagery as individual posts on Instagram daily under the username @thearchitecturalbeast, each of which is complemented by cryptic texts that are developed by a separate AI program. This writing, which at first glance read like heavy theoretical essays with the aid of predictive text, was initially trained on the written work of Rehm, Liam Young, and Damjan Jovanovic. The combination of text and imagery created by The Architectural Beast demonstrates one way architects can let go of the wheel and give artificial intelligence greater agency in the role of human-centered design. The installation is currently on view through January 19.
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ADA Defiant

Built to Scale highlights exclusionary principles in the built environment
Though the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed 30 years ago, we can still point to countless recently-completed buildings as testaments to the gap between the architectural profession and the needs of the people for which they are designed. Built to Scale, a solo exhibition by artist Emily Barker currently on view at the Murmurs gallery in downtown Los Angeles, adds a critical and essential voice to the national debate concerning the concept of accessibility in the built environment. A set of sculptures the artist has placed throughout the exhibition space, in collaboration with designer Tomasz Jan Groza, challenge the hidden yet highly prescriptive status quo in contemporary architectural design that perpetuates societal prejudices against those considered "abnormal" or "divergent." "Those who deviate from the norms," the press release for the show states, "have little space built to include them and can’t participate in most built environments." Many of the floor pieces depict seemingly "innocent" domestic objects rendered in commonly-used materials that become insurmountable to those with limited mobility, such as sand, dirt, grass, and steel mesh. A translucent set of kitchen cabinets, Untitled (Kitchen), partially hangs overhead in a manner akin to the fabric sculptures of Do Ho Suh. Yet where Suh's are often tangible and enveloping, Barker's are disturbingly unusable and alienating. Many of these objects and materials, the exhibition suggests, have been standardized in the name of convenience for what turns out to be a minority of the American population. Yet perhaps the most telling piece in Barker's ensemble is a neatly stacked tower of medical bills, titled Death by 7865 Paper Cuts, that "demonstrate[s] the sheer volume of bureaucratic labor required to meet your basic needs after experiencing unthinkable trauma." Normalcy is rendered as the faceless opponent throughout Built to Scale. A powerfully dangerous myth with fatal consequences, the cult of the normal has pervaded because of its ability to neatly complement modern standards of efficiency, mass production, and narrow definitions of progress. Like other architects, artists, and academics discover lapses of judgment in the construction of the built environment, exhibitions like Built to Scale will continue their mission of informing the public of the myriad relationships we have with the world around us. Built to Scale will be on view at Murmurs until January 18, 2020.
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Reflecting City Pride

Palo Alto receives trippy public art pavilion courtesy of FreelandBuck
The city of Palo Alto, California, has a new public art installation in King Plaza, facing City Hall, that packs a significant number of architectural effects within a minuscule footprint. Titled Cache Me If You Can, the installation is a product of the Los Angeles– and–New York–based architecture office FreelandBuck and is made up of 20 triangular PVC plastic sheets, each of which features photographs taken by Alex Kim that document the life of King Plaza over the course a single day (May 31st, 2019, to be specific). The installation is centered within the plaza's gridded pattern to minimize interrupting pedestrian traffic while offering a visual treat for those with a moment to spare. During the day, the images play a series of optical illusions that invite visitors to visually "line up" the structure with the plaza it foregrounds while walking through its tunnel-like interior. At night, the installation is lit from the inside, causing the perforated surfaces to emit a glow that will keep a portion of the plaza illuminated and reveal a new set of images of the surrounding area. “This project follows several of our previous large-scale installations designed as constructed drawings," remarked FreelandBuck cofounder and principal Brennan Buck. "In this case, we worked with images of the site, articulating them graphically as a pattern of overlapping circles. Each pixel of the photograph produced five circles in a range of hues that, when averaged together, match the hue of the original pixel. From a distance, the photograph is clear, but up close, the surface of the pavilion disintegrates into an abstract pattern of vibrating discs.” Cache Me If You Can is a reflection of FreelandBuck's continuing interest in the relationship between architecture and narrative. Just as no two people can experience a city in the same way, so too does the installation offer an unlimited number of vantage points as visitors make connections between the pavilion and its surroundings. Cache Me If You Can is on view until June 2020.  
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Modern Rhymes

Jacques Tati's Villa Arpel takes the cake at Design Miami
Perhaps the most seminal of seminal French filmmaker Jacque Tati's epochal projects, Mon Oncle (1958) tells the story of Monsieur Hulot. The film follows him as he comes to terms with modern life; postwar France's infatuation with mechanical efficiency and mass consumption. In true Tati fashion, set design, lighting, sound, and visual effect played a vital role in this movie, more so than actual dialogue. Some might argue that Tati's true skill was in architecture and design. At the center of Monsieur Hulot's noble and comedic struggle is the Villa Arpel, a domestic mise-en-scene, and protagonist that emulates if not exaggerates these period-sensitive conditions. Set behind a garden of geometrically-puzzled grass patches and colored stone walkways, a boxy home takes on a life of its own. Its frontal, circular windows become watchful eyes while a whole host of dysfunctional gadgets and appliances puts Monsieur Hulot through a series of running gags. This particular home, set in a fictitious suburban development outside of Paris, is indicative of a society or new generation that favors style over substance. Paying homage to this absurdist and satirical masterpiece, New York gallery Les Atelier Courbet teamed up with architecture practice Thirwall Design to conceive the Please Be Seated installation during last week's Design Miami. Coinciding with the release of Taschen's comprehensive monograph Jacques Tati: The Complete Work, the fair booth showcase was mounted for the US launch of three limited-edition furniture designs, the French studio Domeau & Pérès extracted from the film and reproduced. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Form & Process

ATRA instills its cofounders' Swedish-Mexican heritage in it's first New York show
After opening two galleries this year in Mexico City and San Francisco, multi-disciplinary studio ATRA makes its East Coast debut with their first solo show in New York City. Titled Form & Process, the exhibition showcases the works of Swedish-Mexican cofounders Alexander and Andreas Diaz Andersson, alongside upcoming designers Bogus Studio, Jose Balmaceda, Ann Edholm, and Jose Vera Matos. The showcase is on view at Tuleste Factory through January 2020, by appointment only. Pairing silk-screened and embroidered canvases by Andreas with furnishings by Alexander, the brothers create a dialogue between art and design. Here, an experimental study of material and form ensues a dichotomous blend of their Swedish and Mexican lineages: warm woods and sleek lines, characteristic of Scandinavian design, combine with dark stains and leather distinctive of furniture produced in Mexico during the mid-20th-century. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Beyond MoMA

Curatorial collective augments MoMA with an AR exhibition
"There’s so much modern and contemporary art that isn’t shown," the mononymous artist Damjanski said as we walked around the fifth-floor galleries of MoMA, iPhones in hand. "What if we could bring even more in?" Along with Monique Baltzer and David Lobser, Damjanski has come up with a solution to these limitations with MoMAR, an "unauthorized gallery" that lives inside the recently-reopened museum from which it derives its name. The gallery takes the form of an iPhone app that uses augmented reality (AR) to introduce new art into MoMA by latching onto physical artwork as triggers. Initial exhibitions earlier this year featured new works layered on top of the existing paintings, offering a sort of secret secondary exhibition.
 
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Install view of MoMAR v3 *Open to the Public* with @hikohikounko @manuelrossner @erinkostudios @exonemo

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For its third iteration, titled Open to the Public, the MoMAR curators wanted to push the boundaries of the museum further, digitally intervening into the museum's architecture more directly. Manuel Rossner’s contribution, Reef, reconfigures the room it "sits" in. The German artist, who primarily works in virtual reality, has created a colorful cavern that expands beyond the gallery’s wall. Rather than simply replacing a painting, it cannibalizes it, and in turn considers what environments—physical or digital—might be made within the white-walled constraints of the museum. This vibrant, biomorphic intervention, which is algorithmically generated, adds a dash of play to the relatively rigid structure of the institution. One can imagine the artificial depth causing problems for the less attentive, and MoMA does officially restrict panning phones through rooms if you’re filming. Other artworks cheekily deconstruct our relationships to how we consume (and make) images in the museum. Akihiko Taniguchi has introduced an "augmented selfie" into the gallery, where a 3D avatar of the artist floats in the iPhone’s view. The digital Taniguchi’s arm is outstretched, phone in hand. If you press your screen it will save a picture to your phone and the animated avatar will take a photo too, his virtual self capturing his face in front of a wall of Morris Hirshfield paintings. Strokes, by the Japanese duo exonemo, is an act of artistic intervention (or vandalism). Just what it sounds like, when an iPhone is pointed at its tag (Joseph Pickett's painting Manchester Valley) random Pollock-esque strokes of "paint" will appear on the screen, disrupting and damaging the otherwise pristinely kept MoMA and its carefully kept goods. New York-based Erin Ko’s La Barrera diffuses glitchy fractured signs throughout the gallery—shattered emojis, 3D pyramids and bottles, all what Ko calls "floating garbage." Black brushstrokes cover a canvas that digitally displays quickly changing insipid networked truisms: "You don’t know stress until you own a charger that only works if your phone is at a certain angle." Is that stress? By disrupting the art on display and its vaulted home with her own internet throw up, Ko seems to point out the banality of the glut of content online and off, the constant distractions that the privileged find on their phones and in museums, in buildings and on networks developed by so much labor and producing so much waste, all of which so often is ignored. Where some smaller works hang on the wall a hole opens up, a portal beyond the museum, to nowhere real. An outside we can never reach, the hole reveals the museum as a trap. Despite the ways these works might prod at the museum that made and continues to makes the modern canon, flouting its celebrated art and its architectural integrity, Damjanski noted that he is not anti-museum in the least. He loves coming to the MoMA, but he sees many new opportunities in and beyond traditional institutions. "Museums are so often a one-way conversation," he pointed out. "We want to see if it could be a three- or four-way conversation instead." By involving the user and new artists in the museum, disconnected from its official institutional and curatorial structures, a more democratic, flexible, and updatable MoMA—an augmented one—can be imagined. MoMAR also provides and proposes new ways of exhibiting net art and other creative practices that engage with emerging technology that museums, excluding certain projects such as Rhizome, have been relatively slow to keep up with—though there are some net works like JODI’s video My%Desktop in MoMA’s rehang. Of course, to visit Open to the Public you still have to get to MoMA and pay admission or attend on a free night, which is also when MoMAR hosts its openings. To further the democratizing potential of AR exhibitions, MoMAR’s team offers up its Unity-based platform as an open-source tool so that people around the world can create their own installations and exhibitions well beyond MoMA’s rarefied walls. Open to the Public Viewable with the MoMAR app at MoMA, gallery 521, fifth floor Through January 25, 2020
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Architectural Succession

Sarasota Art Museum's The Worker Project shows the faces of preservation work
A permanent exhibition at the new headquarters of the Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College of Art and Design in Florida highlights the diligent work of the people contracted to help preserve the 93-year-old building around the show.  For the last year, local photographer Barbara Banks has quietly observed construction at the M. Leo Elliott-designed Sarasota High School, a Collegiate Gothic-style building at the edge of downtown that’s being renovated by Lawson Group Architects and K/R Architects. The result of her study, a photo series entitled The Worker Project, will be on view starting Saturday, December 14, when the museum officially opens to the public. The behind-the-scenes work of restoration often goes unnoticed, Banks explained. “Much of it you won’t see like welding, painting, piping, or men working on masonry,” she said. “Each element of work on the historic building was very carefully administered by each person and I wanted to be there for the intimate moments.” Through traversing the site each day, Banks cultivated relationships with many of the workers, all of which were contracted through the Sarasota-based Willis Smith Construction. Some of the men and women on-site (including Banks) were graduates of Sarasota High School and expressed pride working on their alma mater, which includes the 1959 annex building designed by Paul Rudolph. Both structures were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. Because of the site’s storied history, the quality of craftsmanship was elevated, Banks said. “It immediately engendered respect from everyone involved.”  Anne-Marie Russell, director of the Sarasota Art Museum, has been working to move the institution into its new home for the past five years. The expansion to the Ringling College Museum Campus complex, also designed by Rudolph and Victory Lundy, was necessary due to the organization’s growing needs. According to Sarasota Magazine, it’s expected to receive 125,000 visitors in the coming year.  The Sarasota High building that the museum now sits in hasn’t been active with students in 23 years, and Russell’s team was eager to infuse its three stories with contemporary art. Demolition and construction work on the project began in June 2017 and wrapped up this October.  To Russell, The Worker Project will serve as a reminder of the museum’s rich legacy and the meticulous work done to bring it into the 21st century. “The through-line here exists in the quality of skills used on this site,” said Russell. “We work with artists and we know that manual labor is intellectual labor and vice versa. The overriding theme of this project was to shed light on the skilled people who do this work, especially against the backdrop of automation when all craftsmanship and connoisseurship is disappearing before our eyes.” Just like the men who built Elliott and Rudolph’s design with their own hands decades ago, those profiled in The Worker Project are part of a shared history. “That’s the power of adaptive reuse,” said Russell. “When you’re responding to an existing condition rather than just working off a drawing from scratch, every single person becomes a collaborator on improving the project. Everyone here demonstrated their unique expertise.”  David Stershic, a 1974 graduate of Sarasota High, served as the general superintendent on the project. He oversaw the daily work of over 100 people and expressed how Banks’ own work affected him. “As the project evolved, I began to see it as paying homage to the common man who made this project successful.”  But what’s more, he said, was the way Banks interacted with his team. “It amazed me that she got personal with all the workers. Every day she came in and took time to get to know their stories—what their talents are, what they’ve been through, what their lives are like.” The Worker Project will be on display at the new Sarasota Art Museum at 1001 S Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, Florida starting next week.
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Braided Strokes

Alexandra Mocanu weaves tapestries like paintings
At first glance, one might perceive Alexandra Mocanu's broad brushstrokes as mere brazen, single gesture applications of paint. But on closer inspection, these expansive pieces reveal themselves as woven tapestries; interpretative impressions of gouache croquis, the French Romanian-born artist paints as prompts for the highly complex works she eventually creates. Rather than boasting themselves as loud, one-note assertions of skill or trompe l'oeil gimmicks—a trend far too prevalent these days—the intricate tapestries satisfy the haptic and visceral desires of an image-saturated, art-savvy audience. On view till January 24th at New York's Twenty First Gallery, the Tapisseries exhibition brings together 10 of Mocanu's latest oeuvres. Capturing the painterly qualities and effects of such an ethereal medium in a coarse, fibrous application is no small feat. Mocanu has tirelessly mastered a bespoke technique that is as contingent on visual perceptibility as it is on manual expertise. Developed over time, this approach has allowed her to meticulously perfect certain graphical nuances in the tapestries; the elucidation of rough edges, the resignation towards unexpected drips, the control of quick gestural movements, and the contrast between opaque and translucent layering. Read the full profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Horton Hears a Whodunnit

Philip Salata and Jason Araújo attempt to find the murderers of the Horton Plaza Mall
“Who killed Horton Plaza? Who pulled the plug? Was it us: thumbs up, thumbs down? Horton Plaza died while nobody was looking.” So mourn artist Philip Salata and scholar Jason Araújo over the ongoing destruction of the postmodernist San Diego icon, completed in 1985 by Jon Jerde. In their roles as the guest curators for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, Salata and Araújo have installed Ghosted, an exhibition compiling photographs, texts, and a video that attempts to revive the spirit of a once lively complex that might soon be meeting its maker. Set within the Davis-Horton House, a Victorian-era home two blocks from the Horton Plaza Mall in Downtown San Diego, Ghosted invites visitors to question where the finger should be pointed when dealing with the “dead mall” phenomenon and the condition of Horton Plaza in particular. In their exhaustive collection of archival materials, the curators were inspired by photographic documentarians such as Charles Marville, who, in the mid-19th century, photographed Paris on the verge of widespread transition. Salata and Araújo also drew a connection between the end of the Cold War, signaled by the demolition of the Berlin Wall exactly 30 years ago this month, and the rise of the American mall in the late 1980s. Just as the signifiers of the Cold War are mostly gone but not forgotten, so too must we reckon with the leftovers of a bygone retail building type whose ghosts continue to haunt many of our urban centers. In addition to the collection laid out by the curators, they are also encouraging visitors to bring relics of their own “that might shine a light or shadow on what could have happened,” so that they may be added to the archives. Though the future of Horton Plaza remains uncertain given the news last month that Macy’s department store, one of three retailers at the mall, has considered a lawsuit that would prevent the scheduled demolition from taking place, the mall’s waning popularity has been been an ongoing reality for years. The curators hope the exhibition, on view until January 6, will uncover the sequence of events that led to the mall’s demise through community engagement. “Only together”, they write, “may we be able to write the mystery.”
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Propping it up

An architectural exhibition will dialogue with Zaha Hadid's first U.S. building
The first Zaha Hadid-designed building in the United States will host an exhibition that pays homage to the architect’s liberated geometric forms. Later this month, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) will present its winter exhibition, Props, by mixed-media artist and trained architect Lauren Henkin. The CAC moved into its current home in 2003, centered around a spacious, multistory atrium that creates a sense of free circulation. In a 1998 profile of the museum as a work-in-progress, the Los Angeles Times remarked that “Hadid is erasing boundaries—between inside and out, between a controlled and private inner world and the chaotic energy of public life.” Hadid herself described the building as a “jigsaw puzzle” of exhibition spaces—connected by zig-zagging skywalk staircases, the CAC's layout allows for new modes of exhibiting artwork. Henkin will present a series of eight sculptures scattered throughout the museum, each engaging with site-specific elements of Hadid’s architecture. Props will utilize more than 3,300 cubic feet of “unintended” exhibition space, making use of spaces in the museum which have not been previously used to display artwork. “Hadid so often blurs the line between architecture, furniture, and landscape,” Henkin explained. “It was important to me to extend that uncertainty by pushing the boundaries of how we engage sculpture, while also upending common perceptions of how to experience art in a museum setting. In many cases, the way the ‘props’ are experienced is atypical, placed purposefully in circulation spaces where one can only see the work from above or below, or while climbing or descending stairs.” Along with the unconventional use of space, Henkin makes it clear that she does not consider the sculptures to be the main attraction. Rather than to evoke beauty, the sculptures are meant to serve as catalysts to get viewers thinking about Hadid’s built environment and one's place within it. Additionally, Props will pose important questions about the context of objects displayed in institutional settings, for in addition to the unusual placement of the works, some of which are comprised of objects found in the building’s utility closets. “We’ve all had the encounter of walking into a contemporary art space and wondering if something that looks ‘half-way’ is intentional art or just a chance clustering of items, a renovation on pause,” said Steven Matijcio, curator of Props. “Lauren mobilizes that idea to loosen the absolutes of Hadid’s geometry and materials, and to amplify to more porous and fluid dimensions of the building’s design.” Props will be on view from November 22 through March 1, 2020, at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
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Pop-Up Pop Art

Camille Walala rejuvenates an Arkansas gas station from eyesore to icon
French artist Camille Walala descended on Fort Smith, Arkansas, to flip a disused 1950s gas station into an unexpectedly bright piece of public art. Nestled on a sharp corner joining two boulevards, Walala and the women-led creative house Justkids saw an opportunity for a low-budget but high-impact project and needed little more than cans of colorful paints. “I love this canvas,” said Walala, “it was exciting to do something really bold, that stands out on a bigger scale.” Using joyful geometric designs rendered in contrasting primary colors, Walala exercised her signature hybrid style over the space by using a mix of tribal-inspired bold patterning and Pop Art color palettes. The result is a social hub for the town that also serves as a visual landmark, and its success is a reminder that urban regeneration doesn’t necessarily need to be built from the ground up. This unique approach to urban planning is at the core of Justkid’s mission, aligning with their goals to “propel place-making by delivering art experiences that create a unique sense of community.” Since the house’s founding in 2014, Justkids has completed over a dozen projects around the world, emphasizing color and playfulness in each collaboration. The gas station was reimagined thanks to the help of many local volunteers, many of them teenagers, as well as a collaboration with local artist Nate Meyers. The curator of Justkids, Charlotte Dutoit, commented on the transformation saying, “After five years of curating diverse visual projects in Fort Smith, I learned that a big part of good place-making is creating community and a sense of re-discovery of the beauty that is there, in the city, all along, and Camille’s work does just that.”  This spirit of architectural preservation and the re-presentation of history is not only socially impactful but also sustainable, offering a second chance for forgotten or unloved architecture across the country. This collaboration with a visual artist to actively rejuvenate a space, and not only stamp landmark protections on preservation documents, incited real change for the community and sets a precedent for future projects worldwide. In just one week, Walala was able to synthesize inspirations from the Memphis movement to the women of the Southern Ndebele tribe and make a lasting impression, with only a formerly placeless intersection as her canvas.