The next performance for gloATL is going to be at Maddox Park, across the street from the Bankhead MARTA station (search for the exceptional, Friday and Saturday, 21 & 22 September, 8pm each evening). We’ll be collaborating with filmmaker Micah Stansell again, you may recall our performance this Spring at the Historic Fourth Ward Skatepark.
Maddox Park is a special place: it’s one of Atlanta’s oldest parks, is home to possibly the best gazebo in the City, it’s proximity to MARTA is fantastic, and it will one day be connected to the Atlanta Beltline. The area was one of the first suburbs of Atlanta during, developing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The property that is today Maddox Park was initially a landfill. The conversion from landfill to park began in the late 1920s and was completed in 1931. The initial park included a pool house, a swimming hole (later removed and replaced with a pool) and that great gazebo at the top of the hill.
As one of the thirteen jewels in the Emerald Necklace, as the Beltline was initially proposed, there are a number of suggestions for Maddox Park. A comprehensive plan was put forward for the Beltline, after several rounds of community discussion (you can read the plan here—PDF warning), a recent graduate student at Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning has also put forward an expansion of the Park’s greenhouse as an urban farming initiative.
We are particularly excited about Maddox Park because it is so close to our home at Goodson Yard in the Goat Farm, and it has this fantastic pool. Well, the pool’s been closed for the better part of twenty years now.
With volunteers, we will be cleaning the pool as we prepare for the performances (please contact me if you’d like to volunteer with us firstname.lastname@example.org) in the next few weeks. In spite of the obvious need for some clean-up, this pool is really amazing because it has an extraordinary granite foundation.
There is a lovely mural at the back of the pool area and that will be the focus of the remainder of this post.
Of particular note in this mural is this detail:
This symbol on the left-hand side is an Adinkra symbol, originally created by the Akan of Ghana and the Gyaman of Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. The Adinkra symbols are not simply decorative, they also represent objects that convey traditional wisdom. When I was an undergraduate I had the great fortune to study social change and Traditional West African religions at the University of Cape Coast, located on the coast Ghana.
The above symbol is called Nkyinkyim (“en-chin-chim”), deriving from kyim (twist), the phrase literally means to turn oneself around. According to Adolph H. Agbo’s short text, Values of Adinkra Symbols, “The symbol advises people to endure hardships and be committed to their duty. It also stresses the need to live exemplary lives for others to emulate.” (32) In the context of motherhood, this reminds/advises us that we will perform many roles in our lives and each of these will entail a number of difficulties as we progress.
In their “Atlanta: A Morphological History,” Haynie and Peponis discuss the fractured history of integration in our city suggest that the lack of street connections and agreed upon urban center have historical roots that contribute significantly to our discontinuous urban environment. For me the best examples of this are the numerous highway clover leafs, Spaghetti Junction (the northern intersection of I-85 and I-285), and the name changes that happen at the intersection of Ponce De Leon Avenue. But, the Nkyinkyim reminds me that I will always find myself turned around. I can turn these temporary setbacks to my advantage. The Nkyinkyim also suggests that I must navigate these turnarounds and twistings skillfully, serving as an example to those around me. To borrow a phrase from a group Lauri and I met during our panel discussions at the Living Walls conference, the Nkyinkyim might also be saying that I trust my struggle.