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Gordie Howe International Bridge art project unveiled

The artistic concept developed by contemporary artist, Jordan Sook. (Source: Gordie Howe International Bridge/X) The artistic concept developed by contemporary artist, Jordan Sook. (Source: Gordie Howe International Bridge/X)
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The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is revealing artwork for the new international structure.

The artistic concept developed by contemporary artist, Jordan Sook, recognizes and commemorates the region’s role as a destination for freedom-seekers of African descent leaving behind slavery and oppression by travelling the Underground Railroad to Canada.

“The process of getting to this concept was a truly inspiring experience. Being immersed in the Windsor-Detroit community and spending time with descendants, gave me a lot of perspective, insights, and thought starters which played a role in the development of this concept. With this work I aim to honor the past, empower the present and inspire future generations,” said Sook.

The large-scale free-standing sculpture, called Make a Joyful Noise, symbolizes hope and freedom for past, current and future generations.

The artwork is a three metre/nine-foot circular metal structure composed of replica church pews and intentional lighting.

“Jordan Sook has created an art concept that captures the hope and bravery of freedom seekers as they made their journey to Canada. The Gordie Howe International Bridge project is pleased to host this solemn yet joyful recognition of an important part of the region’s history,” said Charl van Niekerk, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA).

Through this concept, the artist signifies the network of institutions, connectivity and resilience, and a pathway through the uses of:

replica church pews to represent the role churches often played in offering assistance and safe harbour for those travelling from the southern US to freedom in the north

the circular form to represent the idea of looking up to the sky, which provided direction to those travelling along the Underground Railroad

lighting at night to help simulate the stars that aided navigation.

It is located outside the Canadian Port of Entry’s security perimeter and visible to travellers as they enter and exit Canada using the multi-use path.

Installation of the artwork will coincide with the opening of the bridge.

A sketch of Sook’s concept along with original artworks inspired by his time in Windsor-Essex are featured a new exhibit at Art Windsor-Essex opening on June 20 and running until fall 2024.

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