Monday, August 3, 2009
In the late 1980’s, the General Services Administration, the federal agency responsible for building and operating government buildings, started accepting proposals for artwork to decorate a courtyard outside the cafeteria of the CIA’s new headquarters building in Langley, Virginia. One artist who submitted was James Sanborn, a sculptor from the Washington, D.C. area. Sanborn was struck by how CIA agents spend their entire lives keeping secrets from even their closest loved ones. He decided to put himself in their shoes: His sculpture, if accepted, would contain an encoded message- the CIA’s stock-in-trade—and only he’s take the secret with him to the grave, just like a CIA agent.