An 18-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Civil Rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. titled ‘Hope Moves Forward’ was unveiled in Atlanta on Thursday, January 14, at the intersection of Northside Drive and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, across from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The statue was created by world-renowned Jamaican-born sculptor and artist, Basil Watson, who was commissioned by the City of Atlanta in 2018 for the project after being selected from a pool of 80 applicants.
Standing 12 feet tall on a 6-foot pedestal with inscriptions on each side, Dr. King is featured releasing a dove, a symbol of peace and freedom.
Watson’s father, Jamaican artist Barrington Watson, made a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1969, which is part of Spelman College’s Museum of Fine Art Collection.
A Georgia resident since 2002, this is Watson’s second sculpture to be installed in Atlanta. Since 2010, his 'Cradle-The Future in our Hands' sculpture has been on display at the Neighborhood Union Health Center in Vine City.
A graduate of Kingston College and Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica, Watson was awarded an Order of Distinction (Commander) by the Government of Jamaica in 2016 for his outstanding work spanning more than 40 years, including statues of Jamaica’s cultural icon The Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley and Olympic Jamaican athletes Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell, Merlene Ottey and Herb McKenley.
Other works include:
• Rings of Life, 2012. Unveiled by Prince Harry in honor of the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II
• Bust of the late JoAnn Thompson, former Alderman of the 16th Ward of Chicago
• Balance, 2006. 15ft sculpture commissioned in commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of Doctors Cave Beach
• Earth to Heaven, 2004. Life-sized sculpture installed in the Changchun Sculpture Park following the 7th International Sculpture Symposium in Changchun, China
• Circle of Knowledge, 2001. Signature work for Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica
In October 2020, Watson became an Elected Sculptor Member of the National Sculpture Society in New York. His next upcoming project is to sculpt the image of Tuskegee airman, Hiram Little, for the City of Eatonton, Georgia.
Contributor: Paulari L.