Why this matters: The iconography found in “Hornets Nest” at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Westovever station is representative of both the CMPD and the revitalization of the West Boulevard corridor.
By Emily Sogard
Cultural & Community Investment Intern
Bricks create a buzz in Michael Morgan’s new “Hornets Nest,” connects community members along West Boulevard to the groundbreaking Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Westover Station.
Morgan, a Philadelphia-based ceramic artist, sees hornets as masons working in unison to create their own environment. He sees the sculptural component he created for the new police station as a metaphor for the community members working together to revitalize the corridor.
What makes the piece successful is that it causes the viewer to look at an everyday material in a new and exciting way.
“What I love about brick is everyone can connect with it, you can alter it to have all sorts of connotations, without making it a representational sculpture,” he said.
Bent and glazed bricks are inlayed into the façade of the building, just above the front door, in the public artwork, which was dedicated in April. It is tight and systematic in the center and widens as it approaches the top of the station. The bricks are heavily textured, mimicking the organic feel of an actual hornets’ nest.
To illustrate the collaboration hornets display in building their homes, Morgan made it a priority to have community members make a physical impact on “Hornets Nest.” With their hands and feet, residents shaped several of the bricks found in the artwork, strengthening the work’s connection to its location.
“It was really a great experience – getting everyone involved,” Morgan said. “I think it is important they know they are a part of a work of art in their community forever.”
Appropriately, the hornets’ nest – a symbol of resurgence and of Charlotte’s Revolutionary War history – is emblazoned on the badges of the CMPD officers that protect and serve.
Indeed, its ties to Charlotte’s past and future make “Hornets Nest” a special addition to the station. It is unexpected and abstract, but it doesn’t “hit the viewer over the head with a sledge hammer,” Morgan said.
What it does do is challenge viewers to reflect on how we impact our physical environments through our very presence.