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This new aerial sculpture in Florida is gorgeous. It’s also a haunting reminder of an ugly past

More than a million knots—1,662,528, to be exact. One hundred and eighty miles of twine. One Supreme Court ruling.

A lot went into the making of artist Janet Echelman’s latest work, but it’s that last metric that has the greatest significance.

The St. Petersburg, Florida, aerial sculpture Bending Arc derives from a 1968 quote by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The arcs of her latest project, long swaths of twine in graduated hues of blue that stretch from black to white, and which billow between masts set in the family park of the city’s new waterfront pier like oversize knitting needles, call viewers to notice the natural environment constantly in motion around them. But it also serves as an arc to a little-known civil rights movement that took place nearly 65 years ago.

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