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Linwood & Bryden Kwanzaa Playground/English Park

Description:

The Kwanzaa Playground in English Park at the corner of Linwood and Bryden was dedicated in May 1995 after several years of development spearheaded by creator, Shirley Bowen, an artist, educator and community activist. Bowen was inspired by her then 9-year-old son who wanted a better place to play than... Read more

The Kwanzaa Playground in English Park at the corner of Linwood and Bryden was dedicated in May 1995 after several years of development spearheaded by creator, Shirley Bowen, an artist, educator and community activist. Bowen was inspired by her then 9-year-old son who wanted a better place to play than the former English Park playground which was in poor condition, unsafe and aesthetically unappealing.
Today, the award-winning Kwanzaa Playground is believed to be the first African-inspired playground in Ohio, and possibly, in the United States. It contains original works of art from seven well-known, local, African-American artists, including: the African Tell-A-Story Board, conceived by Shirley Bowen and created by Larry Winston Collins; Thrones to the Earth and Sky, by Barbara Chavous; the obelisk or Tekhen by Pheoris West; Nommo X by William Agnew and school children; Baobab Tree and Adinkra Fence by Andrew Scott; African Portal by Queen Brooks; and an installation of seven Kwanzaa Plaques by Laverne Brown. These seven artists were challenged to draw inspiration from African and African American culture in the creation of these works.
The playground’s wheelchair accessible walkway is shaped like a human, an anthropomorphic layout chosen to symbolize the First Ancestor, our common source, and our connectedness to the cosmic creator and to each other. In many African traditions, the “head” is the seat of one’s character, and how the head appears reflects one’s sense of self-worth, self-knowledge and self-esteem. At the head of the playground rests the Baobab Tree, a sacred object throughout African cultures where children hear stories to help them grow in harmony with each other and the world around them. An ancient symbol of early civilization, the obelisk sits on the belly of the playground. Since the stomach is considered the center of judgment, the obelisk is inscribed with hieroglyphs that proclaim virtues for good living so the stomach will be free of stress and disease.
Similarly, our universal connectedness is reinforced by the symbols on the Kwanzaa Shelter at the left hand and the Thrones to the Earth and Sky at the right foot. The playground fence also uses the character-building messages in Adinkra proverbs, which were developed by the Asante people in the 19th century to tell stories of wisdom, strength and unity. Playground visitors enter through African Portals richly decorated with animal forms, and kids – and kids at heart – can invent stories of their own at the African Tell-a-Story Board. Ceramic pedestals and tiles created with school kids’ art also encircle the rear entrance and adorn the left foot of the Kwanzaa Playground.

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Columbus, OH, USA
Columbus, Ohio 43215
Franklin County

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