Passageways 2.0 City Thread Receives National Americans for the Arts Award

By Kennedy Blair

In June, Americans for the Arts honored Passageways 2.0’s City Thread at the Americans for the Arts’ Annual Convention in Minneapolis. Public art experts chose Passageways 2.0 City Thread from among 50 outstanding public art projects created in 2018 through the Public Art Network Year in Review program. The Public Art Network is the only national program that specifically recognizes compelling public art.

Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit for advancing the arts and arts education in America. Passageways 2.0 is a public art program of River City Company in partnership with Tinker Ma and Public Art Chattanooga. The goal of Passageways 2.0 is to create a sense of place, enhance economic development of downtown's City Center and to demonstrate the value and potential of unused spaces in our urban core.

The new program is a permanent iteration of the original Passageways program which took four alleys in downtown Chattanooga and transformed them temporarily with art and architecture installations in 2016. The positive response from the public about the first Passageways program encouraged River City Company to initiate Passageways 2.0. Generous grants from the Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations made Passageways 2.0 possible.

River City Company and the American Institute of Architects launched an open invitation to architects, designers, engineers and artists from around the world to take part in the new program. 45 different teams representing 11 countries submitted design proposals. The proposals underwent evaluation by a jury of international award-winning architects, planners and artists with a local selection committee.

The winning design, City Thread, opened to the public in Nov. 2018 at 10 E. 7th St. in downtown Chattanooga. City Thread is a concept from SPORTS, the architecture and design collaborative of Molly Hunker and Greg Corso in Syracuse, New York. City Thread is an art-as-urban-infrastructure installation that uses a continuous sculpture through the alley that allows for multiple uses.

“We didn’t just want it to be a sculpture,” says Greg Corse, Co-Captain of SPORTS Design Team. “We wanted to create something artistic that can also support new activities and new ways to inhabit the downtown area.”

“It’s a huge honor for City Thread to be featured among the top public art projects in the country,” says Katelyn Kirnie, Director of Public Art Chattanooga. “It says something remarkable about the quality of life in Chattanooga and the value of the arts. We are proud to partner with River City Company to provide access to these types of artistic experiences and create people-centered places.”

Since the program’s launch, the alley has hosted numerous community events including concerts, movie nights, happy hours, informative courses in topics like flower arranging and an outdoor children’s classroom. Passageways 2.0’s City Thread offers opportunities for the public to connect and feel a sense of belonging in the community.

“The best of public art can challenge, delight, educate and illuminate. Most of all, public art creates a sense of civic vitality in the cities, towns and communities we inhabit and visit,” says Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “As these Public Art Network Year in Review selections illustrate, public art has the power to enhance our lives on a scale that little else can. I congratulate the artists and commissioning groups for these community treasures, and I look forward to honoring more great works in the years to come.”

The projects selected for Year in Review can be viewed on this page.

To learn more about the Passageways 2.0 program or learn more about upcoming events in the space, visit passagewayschattanooga.com.