Harvard Radcliffe Institute recently announced Curry J. Hackett MAUD ’24 and Gabriel Jean-Paul Soomar MArch II ’24, MDes ’24 winners of the biennial Radcliffe Institute Public Art Competition. The duo won for their innovative proposal titled HOLD, a 30-foot-long U-shaped enclosure designed to symbolize the spaces Black communities construct for themselves, nodding to the screened porches of the American South while acknowledging the cargo holds of slave ships. The artwork is expected to be unveiled at the Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Garden on Brattle Street in May 2024.
The competition offers Harvard students an opportunity to showcase projects at the intersection of art, landscape design, and structural architecture. Participants compete for a prize that includes funding for the construction of the artwork and mentorship throughout the development and installation process.
HOLD is designed to be “an outdoor experience that acknowledges and celebrates the complicated relationship Black folks maintain with enclosure,” the artists said in a statement . The structure will serve as a reminder of the various ways in which Black mobility has been restricted (redlining, incarceration, slavery) while also calling to mind the spaces Black communities build for themselves (the Black church, the front porch, the hair salon)—spaces which signify safety and embrace. Hackett and Soomar intend for HOLD to be a gathering place for events and classes—a place “for Black students and underrepresented students across campus to find space and create space for themselves.”
This public art installation is the first for Soomar and the fourth for Hackett, although Soomar has seen his work exhibited at such notable institutions as New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Venice Biennale Architettura 2023. Curry J. Hackett was also a shortlist candidate for the 2022 Wheelwright Prize.
The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University—also known as Harvard Radcliffe Institute—is one of the world’s leading centers for interdisciplinary exploration. We bring students, scholars, artists, and practitioners together to pursue curiosity-driven research, expand human understanding, and grapple with questions that demand insight from across disciplines. For more information, visit www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.