I took a tour of the new sculptures recently. When I think of looking at art, I think of galleries with bright lights and red velvet ropes. Unlike most art, interacting with the sculptures on the sculpture walk is encouraged. Public art is meant to be enjoyed by all and create a connection between artists and individuals.
I looked up at the beautiful white plaster that shone in the sunlight. The woman in the sculpture was filled with emotion. The effect was quite stunning. Artist James Gabbert shared with us that his sculpture was made out of foam and covered with white stucco. He said we could touch it, but to be careful since it was fragile. I gently ran my hands over the plaster. I barely brushed my fingers across the surface, but it was enough for me to feel the roughness of it. The contrast between the delicate nature of the sculpture and the roughness of the material surprised me. I thought it was a beautiful sculpture. I felt a connection to the piece when I ran my fingers over the surface.
Unfortunately, not everyone who saw the sculpture were gentle with it. A week later, the sculpture’s arms had been ripped off. It was incredibly sad to find out that such a beautiful sculpture had been damaged. Having met the artist, I can’t imagine how he must have felt when he found out someone had been careless with his creation. He put countless hours into that sculpture, and now it was ruined. Now no one else will be able to see the piece and feel that same connection.
Sculptures such as Carmen Marimba by Lee Leuning & Sherri Treeby are meant to be interacted with. Cymbals are attached to the sculpture and there are sticks to hit them with. Many people who viewed the sculpture seemed hesitant to interact with it. One person hit it once, and that was it. When I came back later, I saw children playing with it. The sound filled the street, creating a sound that I wasn’t used to hearing.
Many of the artists who have a sculpture on the tour have put a great amount of time and money into their pieces. They had a specific vision for that piece, and it is a part of them. They are choosing to put themselves out there. While it is public art, we should treat each piece with the amount of respect it deserves. Just like you wouldn’t disrespect another human being, we shouldn’t disrespect a work of art that a human being has created. Art creates connection. It is meant to be enjoyed and interacted with. However, if someone destroys the artwork, there won’t be future opportunities for others to participate. The ropes would go up and it would no longer be public art. And where’s the fun in that?