Iris Chang Park, Current (Projected for 2019)

City of San Jose, California

Public artworks and peoples’ experiences of them have become so relevant in my practice. Currently, I have designed a three-acre park for the city of San Jose, Iris Chang Park, which pays tribute to writer Iris Chang. Iris, as a young female journalist, just out of graduate school, took on a writing project covering a horrific holocaust event that took place in Nanjing, China, during WWII. More than 300,000 people were ruthlessly slaughtered, and more than 75,000 women were brutally raped. Iris’s grandparents lived through this horrible event. Iris interviewed hundreds of first-hand survivors, recovered diaries and photographs, and revealed countless tragic stories of this event. Compiling her research, she wrote a powerful book, The Rape of Nanjing, which became an international bestseller. She lectured throughout the U.S. and Europe, inspiring young writers through her recounted storytelling. Sadly, Iris died an untimely death at 36 years old. As a resident of San Jose, she is being recognized for her significant professional contributions, her honorable character, and her presence as a role model to students and aspiring writers.

The conceptual development of the Iris Chang Park project came from extensive research through her writings, her friends, and her community and through working closely with Iris’s parents. Iris believed in the “power of one,” that one person can make a difference in this world. I have created seven different event spaces within the park that are all thematically connected and relate to different parts of Iris Chang’s belief system. The overall design of the park is based on the flow of water systems found in nature, eddies, currents, waves, streams, and ripples. The centerpiece of the park is a 100-foot-diameter ripple-shaped earthwork/lawn with a five-ton stone sculpture in the middle, positioned as if to set the ripple in motion. From a distance, the ripple is dramatic. Up close, it invites children to play on it, being fully accessible. There are Iris Chang sayings throughout the park, such as “Words preserve the essence of the soul.” There is a History Stone of a sculpture made from a 300-year-old Chinese rice mill gathered from a region near Nanjing, paying tribute to the people killed in this holocaust. The Iris Chang Park will be a powerful, informative, and emotional environment celebrating the life of Iris Chang.

The Sculptures and Areas

1. The History Sculpture is constructed from an 300 year old antique rice/flour mill imported from China. The sculpture represents the importance of understanding the complexities of the past in order for human kind to move towards a better future. The material is granite.

2. The Theater Area is a circular half hard-scaped play area. As a focal point, the sculpture Touch consists of two conical shaped stones symbolizing our interconnectedness and reliance on one another. The material is Basalt.

3. At the heart of our park setting is a nearly 100 foot diameter earthwork in the shape of a ripple in a pond. At its center is a sculpture that seemingly “initiates” the ripple. This composition represents Iris Chang’s belief that “the power of one person can make a difference.” The landscape will be planted with grasses. The sculpture is of Basalt stone.

4. The Power of One area is a 25 foot in diameter plaza space. Central to this area is a vertical monolithic black granite stone with the words etched into the face of the stone reading “Power of One.” The letters will be 7inches in height. Benches provide a place to sit and consider these powerful words.

5. The Children’s Maze is composed of two adjoining concrete spiraling 6” knee walls. The maze symbolizes an eddy and is intended to inspire creative play.

6. The front entry stone will identify the park with engraved words “Iris Chang Park.”

7. The “Identifying Stone” will be located beyond the front entry with engraved text describing Iris Chang and her significant contributions the world.

“Please believe in the power of one. One person can make an enormous difference in the world. One person — actually, one idea — can start a war, or end one, or subvert an entire power structure. One discovery can cure a disease or spawn new technology to benefit or annihilate the human race. You as one individual can change millions of lives. Think big. Do not limit your vision and do not ever compromise your dreams or ideals.” — Iris Chang



Union of Minds (working title)

Franklin Templeton Investments

Artist Statement

The Global Investment Firm, Franklin Templeton, is doubling the size of its corporate headquarters in San Mateo, California. The goal of my design is to create a central landmark sculptural environment that punctuates the convergence of the two main corridors running through and defining the center of campus.

Union of Minds (working title) is a granite sculpture and site work that celebrates the values of collaboration, cultural diversity and innovation. These are values that were championed by Benjamin Franklin, the namesake of Franklin Templeton Investments, and that are strongly reflected in the community surrounding the artwork, including the company’s global employees and visitors, the diverse city of San Mateo, and the innovation of the greater Silicon Valley.

Benjamin Franklin believed that he could best serve the world by serving his fellow man. By working towards the common good, one could prosper while also raising the quality of society. As a founding father, Franklin helped build a nation’s federal government as a new democracy. He invented legislatures, lending libraries, and the first volunteer fire department, and he organized neighborhood constabularies. As a diplomat who understood the necessity and benefit of global networking, he forged lasting international alliances. Franklin was a natural innovator. His amusements with electricity led him to invent the lightning rod and the first battery. He sought practical ways to make stoves less smoky and combined two types of lenses to create bifocals. All of this made him one of the most accomplished and influential Americans of his age whose contributions have significantly shaped our contemporary society.

In 1727 Benjamin Franklin and a group of friends founded the Junto Club also known as the Leather Apron Club. The 12 members were tradesmen and artisans who met to discuss issues of morals, politics or natural philosophy. The club celebrated civic virtue, mutual benefits, the improvement of self and society and the proposition that hard working citizens could “do well by doing good.” They contemplated the practical and political puzzles of the day, and through their collaboration they successfully launched a variety of public service ideas.

Benjamin Franklin was a problem solver. UNION of Minds (working title) distills his view of the world as a dynamic puzzle to be resolved. The 12 puzzle pieces of its central sculpture honor the 12 members of the Junto Club and the collaborative, innovative problem-solving they represented. Each separate piece contributes to the creation of a perfect, cohesive and elegant whole¬. Networking and building unity through collaboration were Benjamin Franklin’s strongest qualities. This artwork symbolizes the unity of collective enterprise as illustrated by a solved puzzle, combining its parts into a oneness of form.

Richard Deutsch
May, 2018