Playground Restoration – Maintaining an Interactive Sculpture

Four Corners Park is home to In Search of Awe – a unique interactive playground structure created in 1993 by artist and architect Eleanor Hand.  Hand ensured this project was a community collaboration, engaging children of the local neighborhood to participate in, and learn the process.  Many children created models of their ideas and the community chose the design of a quaint house encompassed by a heart, created by Isaia Jackson, age 15.  Hand implemented plans for a functional sculpture based on Jackson’s idea, and she enlisted the help of children in the community to bring the design to life.

Since its creation in decades past, the painted iron and wood structure has experienced wear and tear at the hands of nature, the elements, and human activity.  The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs has been working to turn back time and give some love back to this play sanctuary.  Prior to the artwork’s restoration, an assessment was performed by Shannon Douglas Kimbro, Public Art Conservation and Maintenance Manager.  There was vandalism on many areas of the sculpture, either drawn with graphite, chalk, or paint, or otherwise scratched into surfaces.  Paint was discovered to be failing on the metal components of the structure, causing spots of corrosion to appear upon the metal beneath.  Lichen was found to be inhabiting areas of the roof and walls.

Full treatment was initiated by the Public Art Conservation and Maintenance team.  The site was visited multiple times for general graffiti removal, mold removal, power washing, and meticulous re-painting, ensuring that the structure remains safe and clean for the continued enjoyment within the community.  The restoration is now complete, and this outdoor communal play structure is open to the public once again.