All are invited to attend the unveiling of “Positive Space,” a sculpture honoring AIM Center co-founder Bonnie Currey-Stamps, on Saturday, October 1 at 11:00 a.m. at the AIM Center, Inc. located at 472 West Martin Luther King , Jr. Boulevard here in Chattanooga.
Guests will be able to take a first look at the public art installation which stands as a symbol of hope, bravery, compassion, positivity and change for people in our community living with mental illness. Guests are encouraged to confirm their attendance before September 24, 2022 at 423-521-0105 or by email email@example.com.
President and CEO Anna Protano-Biggs comments, “This is an extraordinary piece of public art, one that has taken many hours of love and sweat from our members and partners. working side by side to put it together. Its colorful design reminds us that mental health comes in many forms and can be a story of hope, not despair. Sadly, mental health issues are often limited to whispered conversations in quiet corners, so we’re thrilled to present this project that proudly shines a spotlight on it.
The AIM Center provides employment, education, housing, socialization and wellness opportunities for adults living with serious mental illness. It is a non-medical and non-clinical activity; however, they work with other mental health professionals to provide comprehensive mental health services.
Using the Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, the AIM Center enables participants, members, to develop relationships and create individualized recovery plans while working side-by-side with other members and staff to accomplish the work of the Clubhouse. .
Following the passing of Bonnie Currey-Stamps, co-founder and president and executive director of the AIM Center for 25 years in February 2021, her family, friends and members of the AIM Board of Directors formed a committee to find a way to honor his memory.
In 2006, board member Frances McDonald helped create the plans for the new AIM Center headquarters on W. MLK Blvd. She suggested that a sculpture be placed on the front lawn where it would be a valuable addition to the city’s public artistic presence. This plan was cut from the budget, but the seed was planted. Now driven by a desire to honor Bonnie, revisiting the idea of a sculpture seemed both natural and necessary. In addition, the presence of Judith Mogul at the AIM Center has reinforced confidence in the project. Judith is the facilitator of a major visual arts program at AIM Center, an experienced artist of great stature in the Chattanooga area and beyond, and a facilitator of Mark Making.
Frances McDonald is the Founder and Executive Director of Mark Making, a Chattanooga nonprofit that provides opportunities for marginalized populations to engage in community art projects. She proposed the project to Bonnie’s friends and family committee. They agreed that a large mosaic sculpture would be the perfect way to honor Bonnie and that Mark Making should partner with AIM Center to make the idea a reality. Mark Making’s responsibilities included finding funding, a lead artist, fabricator and contractor for the base (“plaza”) and coordination between these parties. Backers include Bonnie’s husband John Stamps, son Jeff Currey, family friends Alex Fischer, Olan and Norma Mills, and AIM Center member Michael Smith.
Mark Making and AIM Center stressed the importance of all members being involved in the project. Mark Making created a video about Bonnie’s life to educate new members; data was collected to cement an idea of what the members and others wanted the sculpture to look like. Judith Mogul synthesized all of these elements to develop a three-dimensional design that would capture Bonnie’s spirit and her contribution to the AIM Center and community. The design should also be a solid form or support for any mosaic elements to be made in workshops by members, Hamilton County Mental Health Court attendees, and Bonnie’s family and friends. Those unable to attend an in-person workshop had the opportunity to create their mosaic elements using PowerPoint presentations with instructions.
The sculpture concept, based on a drawing of Bonnie by AIM member and artist David Hudson, featured a negative space in the middle of two flat areas. The 12-foot-tall concrete formwork was fabricated by local sculptor Rick Booth. Besides looking like Bonnie, the negative space can also be seen as an invitation for anyone in need of AIM Center’s services.
A total of about 70 people created mosaic elements, including flowers, butterflies, water patterns and celestial bodies, to be incorporated into the landscape-inspired piece. Judith arranged the mosaic patterns and created transitions between the parts by weaving the elements into a unified and dynamic whole.
Members of AIM and the Mark Making team grouted the tiles after applying the completed design areas to the surface of the sculpture.
For more information, visit www.aimcenterinc.org or call 423-624-4800.