San Antonio’s newest public artwork honors African American culture
Martin Luther King Jr. Day seems a wonderful time to reflect on civil rights, how far our country has come, and how much work still must be done. And thanks to a local artist, San Antonians can engage in that reflection and celebrate African American culture through a new public art project on the city’s east side.
The City of San Antonio’s Department of Arts & Culture has just unveiled Spheres of Reflection, a captivating sculpture created by San Antonio artist Kaldric Dow that is now on full display at Martin Luther King Park.
The 13-foot-tall piece, which rests on a 4-foot-tall foundation, depicts a face, assembled in multiple layers, topped by a cylindrical tower of dark, reflective spheres that give the impression of hair.
Each sphere is emblazoned with a word that reflects common themes found in Martin Luther King Jr.’s work. They include “dream,” “sincerity,” “bold,” “desire,” “brave,” “unity,” “gratitude,” “accountability,” “devotion,” and “change.”
“To me, this sculpture represents the essence of what African American culture is,” Dow says. “It was important to me to use my portrait artistic style to create a piece that people can identify with and see themselves represented. The spheres [create] a reflection in honor of Dr. King’s messages of self-reflection, so that viewers are encouraged to look within to consider what the words incorporated in the sculpture mean to them.”
The artwork, which Dow created in response to the community’s desire to tell an interpretive story, addresses themes of local and national civil rights while also enhancing the experience for park visitors.
The artist also fashioned a smaller sculpture with the same name that rests at the River Walk Public Art Garden, which is located on Market Street between Alamo and Bowie streets. That piece serves as an introduction and connector to the main installation at Martin Luther King Park, aiming to encourage River Walk visitors to explore the larger sculpture and the surrounding parks, businesses, and attractions on the east side.
Spheres of Reflection is part of the Department of Arts & Culture’s public art program, which employs community feedback to help shape decisions on the themes, artists, and designs used in public-art projects throughout San Antonio.
“While this sculpture is a memorialization of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., this artwork goes beyond that. It is a catalyst to start a dialogue on proper representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color and social justice,” says District 2 council member Jalen McKee-Rodriguez.
“It is a perfect fit for San Antonio’s east side, as we are a diverse, creative, and resilient neighborhood. This is a lasting beautification project we can all be proud of because every day it will enhance the experience of this park for residents and visitors alike.”