From Sept. 2 to Sept. 26, visitors at the Reston Silver Line Station are able to see an interactive art project, a chalkboard called the Courage Wall. The chalkboard has been set up along construction fencing at the Wiehle-Reston East station, and encourages the public to write in an ending to the sentence, “I wish I had the courage to….” The public art project is sponsored by Comstock Partners and Alexandria resident Nancy Belmont. “I think they chose the right location,” said Mary K. Cieslak, a resident of Reston who uses the Silver Line in her commute. Cieslak used a piece of chalk to write her goal, engagement in visual media projects. “Here, people can reflect on what they are working on now and what they want,” said Cieslak.
Belmont has stationed The Courage Wall at other locations including the Alexandria neighborhood of Del Ray, not far from the office of her strategy and communications company, Belmont Inc. The chalkboard welcomes people to share their goals. Belmont said her project was inspired by a TED Talk by New Orleans artist Candy Chang. In July, the Courage Wall moved to Ballston, Arlington for two months. “It is extremely creative, and it lets people say what is on their minds,” said musician Lang Freeman.
Freeman, a member of the band The Rocketboys, took the opportunity to write on the Reston Courage Wall after visiting Washington, D.C.
The Courage Wall at Reston is maintained by staff and volunteers associated with Comstock Partners. At different points in the day, half the chalkboard is cleared to give room for new entries. The wall will remain up until Sept. 26, when it will be replaced with a new art project, the photo project “We Make Reston.” The Courage Wall is 80 feet long, and features languages, including English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Arabic and Hindi. Comstock Partners suggested adding additional languages as Reston has a diverse community. Wiehle-Reston East is the current final station of the Silver Line, and many commuters pass by the Courage Wall on their way home. “Many people walk out and see this piece of public art,” said Latonya Mack, an employee at the Reston Station.
A special event at Reston Station will be hosted by Belmont on Thursday, Sept. 24. at 7 p.m. Belmont will interview people who displayed courage to make changes as part of a “Courage Conversations” discussion. “The whole purpose is to help people uncover the fears that are holding them back, ” said Belmont. Once Comstock Partners heard of the success of The Courage Wall, Belmont was invited to bring her project to Reston. Several other locations, including one in Virginia, have expressed interest in hosting the Courage Wall. “I am meeting so many interesting people in this process… I love that,” said Belmont. Parts of the Reston Courage Wall were created at Belmont’s home in Alexandria. “I put some good energy into that project as I was painting it,” said Belmont. Volunteers from Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School also helped with the project.