Blessing Hancock sculpture will be one of Nashville’s largest public art commissions

Blessing Hancock, together with Metro Arts Nashville, will soon reveal her latest sculpture Loqui, one of the city’s largest public art commissions. Known for her emphasis on community and for being a solo female artist in a male-centric field, Hancock’s Loqui is her largest and most technologically complex work to date. At three stories tall, Loqui (meaning “to speak” in Latin) is a 32 x 32 foot illuminated stainless steel sculpture located at nationally-recognized entertainment venue, The Fairgrounds Nashville. 

Shaped like an abstracted megaphone, Loqui features a sophisticated lighting system to illuminate The Fairgrounds at night, enlivening the surrounding area with color patterns that play against the sculpture’s surface. Inspired by Nashville’s rich storytelling history and culture, cut into the sculpture are hundreds of phrases contributed by the city’s residents.

Community engagement is at the heart of Blessing’s work. Planning for Loqui happened during the COVID-19 pandemic so the artist hired a local community liaison, Miriam Speyer, to use focus groups, one-on-one conversations and an online survey to ask Nashvillians what the city means to them. 

More than 400 Nashville residents contributed to the piece, ranging in age from 5 to 85.

“My goal for every piece is for it to become a powerful landmark that enriches the human experience and creates an atmosphere of participation, curiosity and connection to community,” Hancock said. “I like to tap into the place and the people who are going to be visiting the work. Loqui is a dual megaphone shape, so it gives local community members a voice but it’s also listening to what they have to say, giving them a chance to be heard.”

Hancock is a standout in her industry for the innovative path she took in the sculpture field, choosing early in her career to bring together experts in fabrication, engineering and installation, so she could solely focus on her creative process. While the majority of Hancock’s contemporaries come from architectural backgrounds and run collaborative design studios, often using computer-generated algorithms to design sculptures, Hancock designs her pieces alone. She then subcontracts the build to various fabricators across the U.S. to ensure the right team is bringing her artistic vision to life and that they can work within a client’s budget and timeline.

“Many people are surprised when they find out I’m the person behind this work and I enjoy breaking that stereotype,” Hancock said. “I find I connect well with communities because I’m comfortable with myself and my femininity. It can be a disarming power and it encourages people to open up and be vulnerable to me in new and engaging ways, which has a direct impact on my art.”

Blessing Hancock rendering of 'Loqui' sculpture being installed summer of 2024 in Nashville.
Blessing Hancock rendering of ‘Loqui’ sculpture being installed summer of 2024 in Nashville. Courtesy of the artist.

Installation of Loqui is underway and will be unveiled in summer 2024. To create the monumental piece, Hancock worked with Gizmo Art Production, Bryan Starr of Tarantino Engineering Consultants, and Art Up Nashville.

Loqui is the first of seven public art installations from Hancock slated for 2024. To date, the artist has completed more than 50 signature public art pieces which can be found around the world, from Tucson, Ariz., to Chengdu, China. 

For more information about Blessing Hancock, visit BlessingHancock.com. For more details about Metro Arts Nashville, go to MetroArtsNashville.com.

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