“Great Blue Herons” by Joanna Blake

Great Blue Herons is a sculpture meticulously designed by the late Joanna Blake. Herons serves as an environmental meditation for the heavily-trafficked and highly visible intersection of East-West Highway and Route One. The artwork greets visitors and commuters – of which there are approximately 41,000 daily – to Riverdale Park and adjoining municipalities. It also evokes the Northeast and Northwest Branches of the Anacostia River, where the sculpture’s avian subjects can be seen in their natural habitat less than a half-mile away.

Herons depicts three herons joined with outstretched wings at their tips, forming the international symbol for recycling, atop a tall steel base at the office building’s south lawn.

Installed October 2017.

Artist's Statement

My design for the Environmental Public Art Project takes its inspiration from regional wildlife, the Great Heron, often seen near the Anacostia Watershed. The sculpture depicts three heron in flight, their outstretched wings touching to create the International symbol for recycling. The sculpture is cast of recycled aluminum to reinforce the idea of a greener lifestyle. The wings of the heron will function [as if it were] a weathervane: [imagine the herons] harnessing the power of the wind to rotate the sculpture atop its steel triangular base.


About the Artist

I create artworks that, not only reflect, but heighten the character of local communities. My design process always begins with meticulous research and appreciation of the subject and the surrounding community's character, which then guides the story that is told through the artwork- I have over fifteen years of experience designing and sc15ulpting memorials and monuments that both commemorate significant events in our nation's history and celebrate prominent figures of the past. I have worked collaboratively with other artists, architects and design professionals to convey a client's vision, while staying within a project's budget I solicit and respond to feedback local residents and officials, especially in the initial design phase.

Shortly after graduating from Auburn University in 1999, I joined Ray Kaskey's atelier. I contributed to the design and sculpting of the National World

War Il Memorial, the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and other national projects. In between projects at Kaskey Studio Inc., I founded Archimedia with Gary Wagoner and created architectural terra cotta elements for pedestrian portals and buildings throughout Auburn University's campus. In 2011, I was selected to design and sculpt two relief panels to honor slaves buried at the Contrabands and Freedmen's Cemetery Memorial in Alexandria, VA. In collaboration with Davis Buckley Architects. My 2012 design was selected as a finalist in the competition for the Virginia Women's Monument in Richmond, VA. Most recently, the Aman Trust, in collaboration with Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission, selected me to design a memorial to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Bladensburg in the War of 1812. I completed the eight by ten foot bronze sculpture, as well as designing the limestone structure that surrounds it.

-Joanna Campbell Blake

In-Progress Plans