Best Look Back at the New Eastside

Reji Thomas' Eastside Mural on 11th

Perhaps this masterpiece, this soul-sending work of art should also be given an award for Best Mural That You Really Have to Look For. Sankofa is the name of this two-paneled complement that resides behind John Yancey's now well-known mural that has become synonymous with – almost a logo for – Austin's re-emergent "East End." Yancey, a UT studio art professor was awarded an Art in Public Places grant to create a focal point for the Charles Urdy Plaza at East 11th and Waller and came up with a vibrant, colorful ode to old East Austin. A smaller grant was awarded to legendary glass artisan and social activist Reji Thomas to create a meditative piece that would face the park benches, essentially to the rear of the park. Rugged shards of glass, brick, tile, "found" (though we suspect quite intentional and jammed with meaning) objects poke out of white plaster like Watts and Gaudi, and come together in this poignant Eastside story. Elements. Slices of sunlight. Hye Won Hye. That which does not burn. The massive church and cross. Testaments of faith. A tree that holds the spiral of history. Odo Nnyew Fie Kwan. Love never loses its way home. The rail car made from jagged industrial parts. Ese Ne Tekrema. The teeth in the tongue. To sit and face this important statement is to bear witness to the pages of history. To look out through the tiled mosaic fingers, leafing through time, we see ourselves, our past, our future, right now. A mystery. Sesa Woruban. I transform my life. Sankofa: Learn from the past. Return and get it.

Graphic Glass Studios Inc.
1101 E. Fifth, 512/220-7354

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