2023 Waterfront Public Art: Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson
Temporary Public Art Installation by Nina Cooke John
Late March to November 2023
Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson, the temporary public art installation on Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront from late March to November 2023, is inspired by the ships uncovered on Alexandria’s waterfront in 2015 and 2018 and forms an abstracted ship’s hull with steel that rises and bends. Created by Jamaican-born, New York-based award-winning artist Nina Cooke John of Studio Cooke John, the installation invites visitors to stand within the space and imagine a time in Alexandria’s history when the ships carried not only cargo like tobacco, molasses, rum and limes, but also enslaved people who were traded as part of the transatlantic and domestic slave trades. Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson is the fifth installation in the City of Alexandria’s Site See: New Views in Old Town series.
Meet the Artist
Meet Nina Cooke John of Studio Cooke John, the artist behind the new public art installation Two Boxes of Oranges and Admonia Jackson on display in Waterfront Park from March to November 2023 as part of the city’s annual Site See series.
My artwork is always trying to react in an abstract way to the human body. This process starts with an understanding of the place, people, history and culture of the installation site and its environs to explore what materials encourage people to touch, engage and be expressive. People can interact with our installation by moving in, through and around the forms – some parts encourage a one-on-one relationship and others foster a group connection.
The history of Alexandria is so deep and layered. I’m particularly interested in the stories that aren’t often told and the process of finding those stories and exposing them. For this installation, I found inspiration in the ships uncovered on Alexandria’s waterfront in 2015 and 2018, and the many layers of history that are not readily seen. The installation abstracts a ship’s hull with steel verticals that rise and bend, referencing the curve of the hull’s frame. Visitors can stand within the space and imagine a time in Alexandria’s history when the ships carried not only cargo like tobacco, molasses, rum and limes, but enslaved individuals who were traded as part of the U.S domestic slave trade.
Learn more about past installations in the Site See: New Views in Old Town annual temporary public art series below.