Florida State University College of Fine Arts’s very own Master Craftsman Studio (MCS) has been recognized for its construction of a memorial for the Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Walk.
Master Craftsman Studio has been featured in several media, including the front page of FSU News, the City of Tallahassee, ABC 27, and The Famuan. Lead by studio manager Phil Gleason, staff and student interns at MCS mixed thousands of pounds of concrete by hand, creating a series of terrazzo panels laid in the sidewalk along Jefferson Street (near Monroe Street). Sixteen panels weighing between 800 and 2,200 pounds each tell the story of local “foot soldiers,” or activists, who participated in Tallahassee’s 1956 bus boycott and the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s.
The memorial marked the first time the studio worked with terrazzo, a composite material made of concrete and mixed aggregate such as marble, granite, quartz and other tiny flecks, all polished into a smooth surface. Gleason said the terrazzo allowed for the use of a gray color scale. The artisans printed the panels’ images to use as maps while casting the panels upside down in box molds. Gleason enjoyed the process.
The sidewalk memorial is illuminated at night by solar lights incorporated into the panels.
The Heritage Walk was unveiled Monday, Sept. 30, during a special program hosted by the Tallahassee Community Redevelopment Agency, the City of Tallahassee and Leon County government officials. The event was open to the public at 6 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers, on the second floor of City Hall at 300 S. Adams St.
Master Craftsman Studio is a unique university auxilliary under the College of Visual Arts, Theater, and Dance. We specialize in realizing the institutions’ creative desires for its campus. As an in-house studio to the school, we work with a wide variety of university entities such as maintenance, grounds, planning, design, public relations, athletics, and academics. We are a self-subsidizing auxiliary of the university which means we generate our own funding. Students see a working professional studio and are exposed to the inner business workings from estimates and ideas, to installation and invoices. This format allows us great opportunities to demonstrate to students the confluence of creativity and entrepreneurship. This practice helps students see that their creativity is a powerful tool that can solve any problem.
Two women’s refusals to do as they were told led to their arrests, a 10-month community-wide boycott and life-long repercussions. Those women were Wilhelmenia Jakes and Carrie Patterson – two students who refused to go to the back of a bus nearly 60 years ago leading to the second major bus boycott in the United States. Their life-altering decision to reject the status quo is memorialized in an innovative and artistic sidewalk that allows citizens to take a walk back in time to a period that significantly altered not only Tallahassee but the entire country. The sidewalk specifically commemorates the 1956 bus boycott and the lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s in Tallahassee and honors more than 50 civil rights activists, also known as foot soldiers.
View photos of MCS’s work at Heritage Memorial Sidewalk on Facebook.