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Posted by on Feb 5, 2013 in Public Art |

Mike Roig, Glimpses of the Promised Land

Mike Roig, Glimpses of the Promised Land


Mike Roig lives and works in Carrboro, NC, where he and his wife, author/illustrator Clay Carmichael, maintain the Heartworks Studio. Roig graduated with a BA in Studio Art from the University of Maryland in 1985. He enjoys the paradox of working with steel – it is tough and malleable, heavy and delicate. Roig participates annually in many art shows and studio tours throughout North Carolina. His sculptures can be found in public and private collections nationally.

Inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.’s allusions, during a speech, to the “Promised Land,” Roig’s Glimpses of the Promised Land represents Chavis Park’s history, including the establishment of the first African American public housing there during a period of segregation.  Glimpses invites viewers to sit on a bench between the legs of the kinetic sculpture and look up into a swirling flock of stainless steel birds circling in eccentric ellipses. Among the birds are two of the Tuskegee airmen’s airplanes, reminding visitors of the Tuskegee airplane that used to be in the park.

The sculpture is 20 feet high and 20 feet in diameter. It is assembled from recycled structural steel treated with oil and wax-based finishes. The upper, mobile components are fashioned from stainless steel hospital trays and car parts. Glimpses of the Promised Land was dedicated in Chavis Park in 2006.


Mike Roig Website



It’s hard to imagine a time when there was a separation between white and black.

Mike Roig’s sculpture, Glimpses of the Promised Land, was inspired by a speech given by Martin Luther King, Jr. in which he speaks of equality and the Promised Land. Roig’s sculpture was meant to be a monument to how far we’ve come as a society.

Chavis Park, where the sculpture currently resides, was built in the 1930’s as an alternative for the African American community to use as opposed to Pullen park, a park restricted for the white population.

Chavis was built with military themes centered in the Chavis Heights Community, a predominantly black neighborhood.

Amenities included a pool, carousel, train for children, and a plane piloted by the Tuskegee airmen, a brave group of the first African Americans allowed to fly fighter planes overseas for the US during WWII.

Over time, the surrounding community called for renovations to be made to the park. The city responded, one of many changes being the removal of the plane from it’s place in the park.

Mike Roig proposed creating a sculpture incorporating two planes, continuing the memorial to the airmen. In 2006, the sculpture was installed. Below the planes, a flock of steel birds turns on a breezy day, representing community and peace. When standing by the sculpture, it alines with the skyline of downtown Raleigh, further supporting his inspiration of the Promised Land.