Like many places in the American south, Florida benefited from the labor of enslaved peoples in its past through its network of plantations. One such place was Tallahassee’s Goodwood Plantation, now Goodwood Museum & Gardens. In recognition of its engagement with slavery, the Goodwood Museum & Gardens organization this year held a competition to a create a memorial to all people enslaved on the property from approximately 1832 until 1865. This memorial is intended to serve as a lasting tribute to those individuals, named and unnamed, who lived and toiled in bondage here and to their descendants. The vision of the Goodwood Museum & Gardens Memorial to the Enslaved is the creation of a sacred and contemplative place that brings together the community by honoring cultures and traditions to promote healing in the present and inspire for equality and social justice in the future.
FSU Department of Interior Architecture & Design graduate students took up the challenge of this memorial competition. Master of Fine Arts students Hannah Smith, Alana Houston, and Sarah Rifqi, together with their mentor, Assistant Professor Meghan Mick designed “a Bridge to the Stars”, which was submitted as their entry for the memorial in December of 2021. Goodwood Museum & Gardens has begun the review process and will be announcing the winner in February of 2022.
Project Statement by Hannah Smith, Alana Houston, and Sarah Rifqi
We believe in the importance of remembering the past in hopes of building a better future. The Goodwood Memorial to the Enslaved is a collection of features that shines a light on the individuals who once lived and worked there. As visitors enter the Memorial, a bridge carries them over a small retention pond. The supports of the bridge represent the enslaved, often hidden (as in the basement and back stairwell), but strong and capable, carrying the weight of Goodwood on their shoulders. The forms create a visual reminder of the deteriorating labor into which the enslaved people were forced. While crossing the bridge, visitors can read interpretive information about the people and their lives. The bridge also provides a better view of the lights suspended from the branches of the historic oaks. The lights have each known name etched on them and are symbolic of the lives the enslaved people never got to experience. In contrast to the bridge supports, visitors must look up in order to view the lights reminiscent of the stars. This simple act of looking up creates an interaction with visitors, a motion of respect and acknowledgement – something that was never granted to the enslaved people during their lives at Goodwood. Visitors can sit and contemplate on the benches or take a walk across the bridge. The design of this memorial serves as a place where people gather to learn, commemorate the lives of the enslaved, and honor them as the individuals they were.