By Sue Bjorkman
The selection of 25 artists commissioned to transform blank replica obelisks into works of public art is underway, now that a curator for the Compassionate St. Augustine Obelisk Art 450 project has been named.
Cabeth Cornelius, a public art and marketing consultant with 30 years of experience managing and promoting diverse, high profile creative projects, joined the project Nov. 10. “I love the arts and I am specifically passionate about public art,” Cornelius said. “A good public art project like this one is a community builder that can engage and promote a city in a way that nothing else can. It has the ability to shine a light on the highest and best of what a city has to offer.”
Cornelius said the OA450 project is especially exciting because it is focused on history and compassion.
Each wood obelisk sculpture is a downsized replica of the 200-year-old Monumento a la Constitution located in St. Augustine’s Plaza. The public art project will be unveiled in various downtown locations during the 450th commemoration in September 2015.
“Cabeth Cornelius is multi-talented and highly respected locally, statewide and beyond for her visionary and innovative work as the public art program administrator for Jacksonville Airport,” said Caren Goldman, co-founder of Compassionate St. Augustine.
During the five years Cornelius worked with the airport, the London Observer named JAX one of the “top four in the world to be stranded in” due to the abundance of fine art. In 2012 CNN proclaimed JAX as “America’s Best Airport” because of the public art programming, Goldman said.
Currently a Jacksonville resident, Cornelius holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parson’s School of Design in New York City.In addition to facilitating the artist selection, Cornelius will act as the public art consultant and handle Compassionate St. Augustine’s marketing and public relations. Working as an independent contractor, her term will end in February 2016.
Seeking diverse art
Twenty-five artists for the project will be selected from around the world. Selections will be based on the strength of the body of work and where they have shown their art. Each artist will receive a stipend for their work.
“What we are looking for is diversity in the artists’ visual language. This project is all about historic storytelling, but each artist will interpret that differently. We would love to be surprised by their creativity,” Cornelius said.
“Once we have the artists we will pair them to the specific site where their obelisk will be displayed.”
Cornelius hopes all the artist selections will be confirmed by the end of this year. For the international artists, the group hopes they will produce their creation in St. Augustine so they can get to know the city they will help beautify.
In addition to adding a purely artistic appeal, Cornelius said the OA450 project has the real potential to bring in tourism dollars. “St. Augustine is already much loved for its history and architecture, but people will also travelhere specifically to see this art project.
It gives one more fun reason to come and explore the city,” she said. “St. Augustine is a very passionate community for the arts and I’ve been very pleased with the level of support this project has.