SALT DESIGN STUDIO won 2nd place for our proposal for the Austin Art in Public Places (AAIPP) competition to design an installation for a public courtyard commemorating the lives of noted Texans, Alamo survivor Susanna Dickinson and author O’Henry. The challenge was to design a setting that connected the historic homes of these two figures and provided a context for understanding the lives of Susanna Dickinson and O’Henry within Brush Square, a public park in downtown Austin.
Though Dickinson was illiterate and unable to write about her experience, her oral account of the Battle of the Alamo forms the bulk of the state’s historical record. Conversely, O’Henry was a gifted raconteur, cleverly capturing the stories of ordinary folks with often ironic surprise endings. His written words conveyed his philosophy and thinking about society, about ethics, and about the minutiae and gifts of daily life. Though they did not live in the same time period, the thread that links O’Henry and Dickinson is the story, the great yarn spoken by one and written by the other. Both lived as storytellers, interpreting and extending history for the next audience. Our team proposed crafting oversized balls of yarn from metal, using them as seats, garden follies, and lanterns to animate the courtyard, introduce a playful note and link these historical figures. The yarn sculptures blend the wit and tone of O’Henry with the dramatic and earthier narrative recounted by Dickinson. The groundplane would be further embellished with O’Henry’s quote “There are stories in everything. I’ve got some of my best yarns from park benches, lampposts, and newspaper stands.” Conceptually accessible to users both young and old, the yarn becomes both a tactile and a metaphorical response to a complex, historical setting.
Collaborators: Jibe Design