Shades of Memphis: A Color Tour Through the Bluff City Cornflower Bluf

Posted on March 27, 2015


1425089008By Clare Shelburne

I came across these gentle giants while battling the unfamiliar Memphis ice as I headed downtown on my weekly Bluff City Coffee excursion. As I drove down North Parkway, I saw some blue peeking through the frost of the late afternoon. Curious, I turned onto a side street, hopped out of my car, and shuffled across an old railway bridge that was actually “closed for repairs” (oops). As I came closer to these not-so-little guys, I realized I actually knew their story. Currently, there are five of these large, blue sculptures off of the V&E Greenline. Named, appropriately, “The Big Kids,” these pieces of art were created by the hands of 18 students at Rhodes College, which sits right in Midtown. While walking alongside “The Big Kids,” I slowly came to understand that they might hold a different meaning than what was originally intended.

My generation is the first to have constant and complete access to computers, video games, and all sorts of gadgets right from the start of our childhood. We are a plethora of young-adults who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Truly, the numbers our astounding; in the US alone, 5.4 million children have been diagnosed with ADHD. Now, while I have confidence in medicine and the diagnoses of doctors, I have to wonder; how can we all have ADHD? Are we not just restless in the real world because our virtual ones are so incredibly stimulating? As a generation, we have grown up living manic, fast-paced fantasy lives through video games, computers, and television. After all of that, wouldn’t the real world be a little more difficult to focus on? The drugs prescribed for ADHD are ones that tell us to “sit, stay, and look like you’re as calm as the rest of the planet wants you to be.” I’m not sure that we live in a world of such vast numbers of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I think we certainly live in an unprecedented time of “Go, go, go!” This whirling world around us is a new phenomenon, but we are still being held to the standard of the older, slower-paced world.

To me, these sculptures scream “millennial.” Memphis is a busy city. North Parkway is a street filled with motion. During all hours of the day, people are rushing to get to their fast paced jobs downtown or are racing to their crowded lives all around the 901. Right next to the road, the V&E Greenline is a trail on which people constantly run and sprint with superhuman determination. These “Big Kids” watch the fast-moving world around them and sit, their concrete bodies not allowing them to take part in the movement. In the midst of the bustle, their blue paint creates the welcome illusion of calm and serenity. The “Big Kids” are artificial; humanoids watching the rest of the world live its natural life. They are millennials forced to feign focus while in reality, they wish to be rid of the pressure of their façade. They’re us, they’re Generation Y.

Though it is hard to tell clearly from this picture, the “Big Kids” are broken. Their chipped paint is weathering away with each day. Their hands, feet, even heads are eroded and breaking off. They are no longer whole. The façade is wearing, and the problem won’t subside without interference. These “Big Kids,” just like my generation of big kids, need attention and caring for, not a blue paint-job and a concrete sprawl. Instead of another round of Adderall, let’s teach ourselves how to mellow out and try to teach the rest of the world to catch up.

Next time you’re running along the Greenline or speeding off to downtown, give the “Big Kids” a little attention. I’m sure they would appreciate it.

Posted in: Lifestyle