Woven Works Park at Innovation Cornerstone is the third of four cornerstones on the Downtown Greenway and is located at the corner of East Lindsay Street and Murrow Blvd. Construction began in May 2016 and the cornerstone was dedicated on September 24, 2016 from 3-4 pm prior to the 7th Annual Run 4 the Greenway which was held at Cumberland Park adjacent to the cornerstone. There are several different elements of play on the site. Click here to see photos. We have a time lapse video of the construction of the Innovation Cornerstone. Click here to watch the short video footage.
Minneapolis artist Randy Walker was selected to design and create the Innovation Cornerstone (NE) at the corner of Lindsay Street and Murrow Boulevard. Randy’s work has a relationship to both textiles and innovative play. Click to see his bio and examples of his work.
Textile magnates Moses and Ceasar Cone’s selection of Greensboro for their operations was influenced by the network of rail lines that radiated in six directions from Greensboro’s center. Together the Cone Brothers formed a selling agency to help southern mills compete with their northern counterparts, and in 1890 they incorporated the Cone Export and Commission Company in New York City. Greensboro’s proximity to cotton fields, gins, and warehouses, as well as its location as a central hub on the railroad line, led the brothers to relocate their headquarters to Greensboro in 1893. The innovative and entrepreneurial spirit at the core of their success story continues to play a role in what makes Greensboro unique today.
Inspired by the ingenious processes and carefully crafted machinery used in nearby textile mills, artist Randy Walker sought to create an artistic composition that acknowledges this ongoing spirit of innovation. He imagined placing a large-scale twill weave pattern—the same distinctive denim weave so inseparable from Greensboro’s textile heritage—as an overlay on the 1.4-acre park to organize and unite the entire Innovation Cornerstone site. Instead of fibers, both paths and landscape beds mimic the crisscross pattern of warp and weft yarns used to create twill. Some of these “yarns” extend to the boundaries of the property, while others disappear, inviting visitors to imagine the pattern extending into the existing landscape. The resulting grid-like pattern creates spaces for activity, growth, and repose.
Within this woven landscape, the artist introduced eight interactive sculptural destinations to be enjoyed as one moves through the park. These sculptures are intended to be playful, open-ended, and accessible structures that can be experienced on a variety of levels. The design of Woven Works Park draws on the forms and processes used in textile production to compel the sense of discovery, play, and invention that continues to weave itself into both the culture and economy of Greensboro.
The spirit of interactive and accessible play evoked by these installations honors the memory of Henry Samuel Levinson (1948 – 2010). Henry and Cathy Levinson moved to Greensboro in 1983, and soon became devoted to the city. When Henry lost a 30-year battle with Multiple Sclerosis, Cathy and their daughters, Molly and Sarah, joined with dozens of friends to celebrate his life. Henry’s lifelong commitment to play and the outdoors are embodied in this park, and this support is given with the hope that it will bring as much joy and meaning to future generations of children as Henry brought to those who loved and miss him.
Before weaving fabric, one must have yarn. Like a tall spindle in the process of winding yarns together, Revolution Cone is accessed by following a spiral path as it winds its way through the 101 steel cables that anchor the structure to the site. At the base of the sculpture, a revolving carousel bench offers a continually changing view of the park and the city beyond, where one can also imagine being inside a spool of thread.
These bike racks mimic the form of yarn as it passes over rollers and is woven into fabric. The metal yarn appears to support the roller in midair, then disappears into the ground to emerge elsewhere on the site. Secure your bike by weaving your own cable or u-lock through the yarns.
The spool donor wall recognizes the contributions of individuals and organizations to Greensboro’s Downtown Greenway. Inspired by hundreds of slowly turning spools found within nearby White Oak Mill, the sculpture’s color matches the green of the historic Draper looms used in denim production.
Just as yarn is interlaced at right angles in the process of weaving, six concrete cylinders are arranged at right angles to each other. Placed at the intersections of paths and landscape beds that cross each other, the cylinders reinforce the over/under twill pattern that organizes the site.
What would it be like to climb around within a denim pattern? Jungle Jeans invites us to imagine this idea by playing with the twill pattern of blue denim, which is made from indigo blue-dyed and natural white yarn. In blue jeans, one side of the fabric appears blue and the reverse side appears white. Jungle Jeans extends this idea into three dimensions.
Inspired by the fluid, meditative movement of yarn through looms as fabric is made, this loom-like construction encourages participants to power a rake by rotating its arm through sand. Selvedge refers to the edge of woven fabric during manufacture that prevents it from unraveling. Highly prized denim can be identified by the unique selvedge created by weaving denim on the narrow looms found at the historic White Oak Plant.
Themes relating to weaving and spinning are not limited to textiles, but can also be found in other defining moments in Greensboro’s cultural heritage. The 1960 Woolworth sit-in was pivotal to both the civil rights movement and United States history. The nonviolent protest inspired by four black students who sat down at the store’s lunch counter, were denied service, and refused to leave was instrumental in establishing desegregation. Sit and Spin evokes the stools and lunch counter at the center of their protest. Here, the counters and stools are arranged along intersecting paths, accessible to people of all abilities and races, in hopes of generating conversation.
Greensboro’s innovative legacy is ongoing, and local craft breweries are increasingly playing a role in redefining our city. The path of yarn spins and weaves through a textile mill, then winds around spools, over rollers, and through looms. Hop plants used in the brewing process are typically grown on tall, vertical rope trellises, winding and weaving as they mature. The artist was struck by similarities of the fiber-like qualities of a hop trellis and the processes found in textile mills. Hops Garden combines these elements into a playful passage to hop, walk or roll through.
The Bird, Bee & Butterfly Pollinator Garden is located at Woven Works Park on the Downtown Greenway at the corner of Lindsay and Murrow Blvd at 401 Cumberland Street. The garden surrounds the day-lighted stream that runs through the park and is designed to attract native pollinators. Local advocates including the T. Gilbert Pearson Audubon Society, the Piedmont Bird Club, the Carolina Butterfly Society, and the NC Native Plant Society assisted in the selection of plants to enhance this area. Several work days have been held to spread mulch to get the site ready for plantings and to put in plants donated by NC A&T. Habitat loss, disease and contact with pesticides have resulted in significant declines in honeybee and other insect populations over the years. The Bird, Bee & Butterfly Garden on the Downtown Greenway is a small step towards protecting pollinators and keeping the ‘green’ in greenway.
Artist Randy Walker also designed and fabricated two bus shelters with the theme of the Revolution Cone in mind. One shelter was installed spring 2018 and is located adjacent to Woven Works Park at the corner of Lindsay and Cumberland Avenue. An identical bus shelter will be installed on Murrow Boulevard between Market Street and Lindsay Street upon completion of Phase 2 along Murrow Blvd; construction for this section will begin later this summer.