Beyond the Build

Community Service

Seeds of Creativity: Building Solidarity in Our Community

While traveling to project sites, I like to take the side roads “the roads less traveled” instead of the interstate, so I can get a better feel for the communities we are impacting. Along the way, I have come to know and support many local craftsmen and artists. Their unique pieces give me a chance to talk about where we have worked, who we have met and what we stand for.

It seemed natural to integrate those treasures into our new corporate campus. Inside, there is a prominent alcove that sat empty for a long time because we could not find just the right piece of art to occupy the space. We thought a quilt might work, so we engaged the Birmingham Museum of Art, which has one of the largest collections of quilts in the U.S. The quilt needed to look nice, and speak to both the homegrown nature of our business and the environmentally friendly overtones of the new office. The quilt that is presently hanging was sewn by Mrs. Bettye Kimbrell who was a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow.

We have two of Ms. Kimbrell’s quilts and another quilt from Mozell Benson who was also an NEA fellow as well, and the recipient of a home from the Rural Studio art/architecture program at Auburn University.

Our goal is to have 5-6 quilts in the collection and rotate them periodically. The quilts better the lives of the people in the building and also help support the our artists.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.