AUGUSTA — A Martin Luther King memorial originally designed for Portland by University of Maine art professor Robert Katz mayl be permanently displayed at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Katz spent the past 10 months researching King’s life and the Civil Rights Movement in an effort to design a meaningful and enduring memorial for Portland’s request for proposal’s. Katz’s design was the remaining finalist, but the city’s task force didn’t feel it was what they were looking for.
Katz, of Hallowell, had assembled a team of educators, artists, architects, historians and craftspeople to join him in a collaborative design process. Team members included Ben Stoodley and Arielle Cousens of Readfield, who are both graduates of UMA’s art and architecture programs and who are established architectural designers; Chris Meyers Asch of Hallowell, who is a nationally recognized civil rights historian; and Douglas Quin, a professor of communications at Syracuse University.
Noah Katz, Katz’s son and a ninth-grader at Kents Hill School in Readfield, provided background research and graphic images for the team’s initial conceptual plans. Katz invited Noah to be a part of the team because he felt that it was imperative to have a young person’s perspective of King’s achievements. He believed that his team’s design would serve as a resource for future generations of Maine students who need to be aware of King’s place in American history and the ongoing struggle for equality and social justice in our society.
When the design wasn’t picked, “I felt sorry for my team members, who worked so diligently during these many months and believed so strongly that they had met all of the criteria originally set out by the selection committee,” Katz said.
He reminded his team of his opening remarks that evening when he addressed the committee members, “We are honored to be a part of the process to design a permanent memorial dedicated to the life of Dr. King. Regardless of the decision that this committee comes to, I wish to thank you for the opportunity to share with you today our design entitled ‘The Welcome Table,’ an aspirational goal often referenced by Dr. King. We must remember that the story of Dr. Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement must remain in the forefront of our collective consciousness as we continue to negotiate our way through an imperfect society.”
Aaron Rosen, director of the Henry Luce lll Center for the Arts and Religion in Washington D.C, and a native of Pittsfield, contacted Katz after the meeting and said, “Yours is precisely the type of memorial Dr. King would have wanted, pushing the struggle forward, together.” He invited Katz to bring the model and renderings to Washington D.C.,
For more information about Katz’s design and photographs of the model and renderings, contact him at email@example.com or at 592-8639.
TOP PHOTO: A rendering of Robert Katz’ Martin Luther King Memorial. (Submitted photo)