A Way, Away (Listen While I Say) is the first joint commission for Chicago-based artists Amanda Williams and Andres L. Hernandez. The project activates an empty land parcel as well as an adjacent building at 3721 Washington Boulevard, which was slated for demolition. The project is organized to unfold in five stages: Marking (painting the building gold), Subtracting (demolishing the building and salvaging materials for later use), Translating (distributing the materials within the local community for design projects), Shaping (reshaping the topographical contours of the landscape), and Healing (regenerating the green space). By choreographing the process in this way, the artists invite us to pause and evaluate the life cycle of the urban landscape. Drawing inspiration from classic tropes in blues music about hope and unrequited love, the work’s title is meant to evoke the cycle of loss and transformation that characterizes the built environment. A Way, Away (Listen While I Say) is ongoing through fall 2017 and is located at 3713–3721 Washington Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108, across the street from the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.
Prior to launching this project, Williams and Hernandez participated in a teaching residency at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts in fall 2016, co-teaching a studio for students in the Graduate School of Architecture and Urban Design with Sam Fox School lecturer Jonathan Stitelman. Using demolition as a point of departure, students gathered broken bricks—a material rich with local and architectural significance—from the site of a previous Pulitzer project, raumlaborberlin: 4562 Enright Avenue. Students then actively investigated, researched, and experimented with ideas of building and unbuilding by repurposing these reclaimed bricks. Through studio-based projects, a field trip to Chicago, and a charrette with local community members, students engaged with social and spatial practices, integrating innovative design applications and community-oriented research.
A Way, Away (Listen While I Say) is a continuation of Pxstl, a series of design-build commissions organized by the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis. Pxstl—an acronym that stands for the Pulitzer, Sam Fox School, and St. Louis—was founded on the belief that creative interventions have the power to serve as meaningful catalysts for urban transformation.