Windsor, Ontario • The Gordie Howe International Bridge project team is pleased to announce the completion of its artist selection process for the Commemorative Art Commission recognizing the Underground Railroad. Jordan Sook, a contemporary mixed media artist, will develop the commission to be installed at the Canadian Port of Entry.
In the 1800s, thousands of formerly enslaved people from the United States crossed the Detroit River to find freedom for themselves and their offspring in Canada. Mr. Sook will create a free-standing sculpture that recognizes the area’s role as a destination for freedom-seekers travelling the Underground Railroad and symbolizes hope and freedom for past, current and future generations. Centrally located outside the Port of Entry’s perimeter and visible to travellers as they enter and exit Canada using the multi-use path, the artwork will be accessible for the public to visit and reflect upon. The final art concept will be shared in early 2024, with installation coinciding with the opening of the Gordie Howe International Bridge project.
To allow the community to meet the artist and share their thoughts on possible themes and symbolism, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) will host two meetings. A special meeting will occur for descendants of freedom-seekers with a broader community meeting to follow. Advance registration is required.
Meet-the-Artist Community Meeting for Descendants of Freedom-Seekers
Monday, November 20, 2023
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Meet-the-Artist Community Meeting
Tuesday, November 21, 2023
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
During the past several months, the project team has met with organizations serving the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora to consult on possible themes for the artist’s consideration. The commission also includes a mentorship opportunity for a local youth identifying as a member of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora from Sandwich/west Windsor to work with the artist. Information on the mentorship will be shared in late 2023.
“My aim is to weave the intricacy of the Underground Railroad's history into a public work that unites the community's voices to honour the past and inspire a brighter future.”
- Jordan Sook, Artist
“WDBA is honoured to recognize the region’s, and indeed the country’s, history by providing a space where people can pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifices of the thousands who sought freedom in Canada, and the legacy they provided for the many descendants that remain here in southern Ontario and beyond.”
- Charl van Niekerk, CEO, Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority
“By building partnerships and consulting with the residents of Windsor-Essex, the Gordie Howe International Bridge project team continues to deliver economic and social benefits for the community. Freedom seekers and generations of their descendants have deep roots in our region, and the art installation recognizing the historical significance of the Underground Railroad at the Canadian Port of Entry will pay homage to their sacrifices and contributions to our community for years to come.”
- Irek Kusmierczyk, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Windsor—Tecumseh, on behalf of the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities
- Jordan Sook is a contemporary mixed media artist who works and resides in Toronto, Canada and looks to change the landscape of Canadian art and broaden the framework and understanding of Black art as a whole.
- An extensive artist selection process by WDBA began in 2023. Interviews occurred in summer 2023 with short-listed candidates of the Black, African and Caribbean diaspora from across Canada. The selection committee was comprised of project aesthetics staff, external art experts and included Black, African and Caribbean representation.
- In addition to continued collaboration with the Detroit River Project and the Essex County Black Historical Society, WDBA appreciates the donation of materials and the installation of concrete provided by Amico, a Windsor-based company, to support the commission and the donation of time and services by Karen Mills, Public Art Management.
- Backgrounder: Artist’s Biography
- Spotlight Story: Artist Selected to Create Commemorative Artwork at the Gordie Howe International Bridge
- Artist Video: Meet the Artist – Jordan Sook
- Fact Sheet: Commemorating the Underground Railroad at the Canadian Port of Entry
- Visual Art Program
ABOUT WINDSOR-DETROIT BRIDGE AUTHORITY
Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) is a not-for-profit Canadian Crown corporation created to deliver the Gordie Howe International Bridge project between Windsor, ON and Detroit, MI through a public-private partnership (P3). WDBA is responsible for overseeing and managing the construction and operation of the new crossing. Visit GordieHoweInternationalBridge.com for more information on WDBA and follow the project on Facebook.
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Gordie Howe International Bridge
Media Relations Team