December 8, 2017 (Rochester, MN) -- A striking tapered arch-shaped sculpture that was commissioned by the City of Rochester will be installed on Mayo Civic Center’s Riverfront Plaza on Saturday, Dec. 9.
The 30-foot long, 15-foot high stainless steel sculpture is an interactive display and hasn’t officially been named by the artist yet. The main sculpture will be located on the center’s southern plaza while a kiosk inside the center (to be activated in the spring) that overlooks the sculpture invites individuals to type on a keyboard. The sentiments typed into the inside keyboard will then emit sound and light on the sculpture outside.
The sculpture is intended to energize and unite the public and foster creative expression, says artist Po Shu Wang of Berkeley, California, who was selected in mid-2016 at the recommendation of a six-member City of Rochester Public Art Task Force to create the sculpture.
Wang says that instead of just passively viewing the sculpture, individuals and groups will become active content producers of “symphonic compositions” of music and light emanating from the installation. “The idea is friends and strangers can come together and all contribute. All they need to do is express themselves,” Wang says. “They can be like-minded or not like-minded people. It doesn’t matter. Everyone can be constructive and enjoy what’s created,” Wang says.
Background on the Public Art Sculpture
The sculpture has been in the works since July of 2016, when a Public Art Task Force selected Wang—a veteran artist with decades of experience in large-scale public art installations--from a wide pool of candidates. The Task Force included representatives from the community, city staff, Rochester Art Center staff, and the architect of the Mayo Civic Center expansion project. The Task Force’s recommendation of Wang was approved by the Mayo Civic Center’s Executive Committee and the Rochester City Council.
Marv Mitchell, chair of the Mayo Civic Center Commission, notes that public art installations are increasingly significant elements of vibrant communities and are especially suited to community gathering places like Mayo Civic Center.
“We expect this interactive installation will generate a lot of interest and stimulate some wonderful hands-on engagement in the arts,” Mitchell says. “The goal is to create an iconic image and identity for the facility. This sculpture will enliven the plaza and engage the citizens of Rochester as well as visitors to our community.”
The Inspiration Behind the Art
Wang designed his tapered arch to complement the architecture of the renovated Mayo Civic Center and to attract and welcome people to the Riverfront Plaza overlooking the Zumbro River. “I was looking at how the building and plaza were designed. I was inspired to make an arch that is tapered from one end to the other and that guides people into the plaza. It’s like an entry or an abstract invitation to enter the space,” Wang says.
For almost 30 years, Wang has focused on public art that’s interactive and participatory. Born in Hong Kong and educated in Italy, Wang moved to the United States in the early 1990s. Ever since he was a young artist, he’s preferred “hands on” installations. “I want people to be able to touch the work, to do something with it, and after many years I have evolved to the point that I want the public to be able to express themselves through public art,” he says. This sculpture provides that opportunity. “If there’s a main event that brings people to the Civic Center, this sculpture allows them to also casually participate in something in which they themselves can be the performer, in collaboration with fellow event-goers.”
Wang adds: “One of the advantages of public art is that if you don’t mind people touching and interacting with it, something else comes out of it. It’s not my art anymore, it’s theirs. The meaning can only happen if people participate. The ultimate goal is you want people to appreciate art, and if people can express themselves and become artists themselves, that’s the fun part. You never know what they’re going to come up with.”
Technical details of the Sculpture
- Dimensions: 30 feet in length, 7 feet 6 inches in width, 15 feet 4 inches in height
- Weight: 5,520 pounds
- The sculpture is made of structural stainless steel. It was fabricated at a factory in Oakland, California by Wang and welders under Wang’s supervision.
- An outdoor LED light, small microprocessor, and speaker will be located near the outdoor sculpture and activated in spring, 2018.
- The software that translates what’s typed into the keyboard (located in the inside kiosk) into music and light was completed by a programmer from Denmark.
- The sculpture was cut in two in order to be transported
from California on a flatbed truck. The sculpture will be welded back together onsite on Saturday.
- The total cost of the sculpture was $200,000. It was part of the Mayo Civic Center expansion project and was paid for by the City of Rochester.
Invitation to Media to View Installation
Representatives of the media are invited to view and photograph/film the installation of the sculpture on Saturday, Dec. 9. The sculpture will be installed on the southern side of the Mayo Civic Center, near Civic Center Drive and 2nd St. SE. The sculpture will be put in place and welded back together starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday and continuing through early afternoon. Additional work will be completed at the beginning of the week to secure the sculpture in the proper location.
Donna Drews, executive director of the Mayo Civic Center, will be available for interviews between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday. Artist Po Shu Wang will be supervising the installation and may be available for interviews if time permits.
Please contact Erin Okins, marketing manager at the Mayo Civic Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 507-328-2123 to pre-arrange an interview.