by Alex Melnick
Arts & Life Editor
The Jackson Woman’s Health Organization may be undergoing another set of changes. The clinic, located in Fondren, has been subject to protests and attempted closings in the past years. However, the “pink house,” as it’s locally called, has stayed open thanks to the help of Jacksonians (including some Millsaps students), and press coverage worldwide.
Now that legal channels have made it certain JWHO will stay open, it’s time for a makeover. This is where University of Syracuse Assistant Professor Lori A. Brown steps in. The Atlanta born and New York based architect wants to totally redesign the unsightly black tarp covered chain link fence that currently lines the perimeter of the JWHO clinic—with the help of the people of Jackson, of course.
“This is for the clinic, it’s for the community, and so it’s not appropriate for us to just come in and say how it will be done,” Brown commented over the phone, as her dogs yelped in the background. Brown has big ideas. She initially encountered the clinic in 2013 while researching for her book Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinic, and she befriended the owner of JWHO during a visit to our city. Brown has been fascinated with helping JWHO ever since, and wants to re-think the way the clinic’s perimeters are presented to the adjacent Fondren streets.
“It’s so ugly, I can’t understand why they aren’t in arms up about it,” Brown remarked. She wants to create a more private barrier for the clinic, and also infuse the barrier with art from the Jackson community. This project grew from her curated show at Parsons School of Design entitled Private Choices, Public Spaces and has now grown to a collaborative art project with an open call for suggestions that can come from all over the world. The call on how to best deal with JWHO’s shoddy, indiscrete fence will hopefully allow Brown and her team to work with the people of Jackson in a way that creates a productive dialogue, and an attractive sound minimizing fence.
But how do you even successfully build a public art project to beautify and enhance the only existing abortion clinic in all of Mississippi? “Of course, there will be pushback,” Brown said, Brown has experienced the protestors at the clinic before, and is aware of their detrimental effects on the economy and peace of the Fondren neighborhood, but is firm in her belief that the conversation about design’s place in activism and community awareness needs to take place in Mississippi.
For more information on how you as a Jacksonian can help, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit here: http://architexx.org/action/design-action/pcps/