Beneath the Surface
Mary Carothers’ project concept is based on door knobs as symbols of home and community. Using clay and iron, materials tied to Louisville’s industrial history, “Beneath the Surface” demonstrates excellence in concept, skill, and implementation of a unique, artistic vision. Carothers selected knobs from her personal collection, from centuries-old architecture nearby, and from Belfast, Ireland in tribute to Irish immigrants working along the Ohio River in the mid-1800s. Twenty-five unique knobs were molded and cast in porcelain, producing nearly 2,500 individual pieces.
The installation topography mimics river grass, capturing the artist’s intent to honor individual lives that transpired along the River but are overlooked or forgotten. A hand holding a banana refers to the forgotten nickname "Little Panama", as bananas were shipped up the Mississippi to the Ohio River and distributed throughout the Midwest. Each sculpture represents an individual story; thousands together form a mass to represent community. The Louisville Loop is an estimated 100-mile trail system that will eventually encircle the city of Louisville and link existing and new parks and neighborhoods to civic attractions, transportation alternatives, and recreation opportunities. Opening in August 2015, an exhibition titled "Connect|Disconnect: A Public Art Experience" turned a section of the Louisville Loop located along the Ohio River just west of downtown Louisville, into a temporary art walk.
The exhibition site is located in a unique area of Louisville where transportation networks (river, highway, rail and trail) dominate the view, and where the industrial past will be re-imagined as part of an expanded Waterfront Park (currently in concept design). Historically, the location is the site of Louisville’s earliest settlements in the 1800s and has continued to be one of the busiest areas in the country for shipping and barge traffic. In 2013 Louisville began a 25-year visioning process, producing over 80,000 ideas from citizens. Shared and consistent themes generated through Vision Louisville included enhancing and reconnecting to the Waterfront and completing the Louisville Loop, with an emphasis on the 11-mile Waterfront path. Connect|Disconnect was an opportunity to activate an underutilized portion of the Loop and Waterfront for residents and visitors. "Beneath the Surface" was exhibited through November 2015. The artwork was subsequently purchased from the artist by a private collector.