Learn about the 2015 New Albany Public Art Project installations.

Photo credit: Carnegie Center

I’d like to take personal credit for the 2015 New Albany Public Art Project. Why not? Jeff Gahan already has.

Meanwhile, here’s the straight dope from Laura Wilkins.

We’re excited to announce the artists selected for the 2015 New Albany Public Art Project: Today & Tomorrow Series.

In 2015 we are launching our second public art series in downtown New Albany titled the “Today & Tomorrow Series.” With input from the public, the Carnegie Center has selected several important themes that impact our city today that we will ask artists to interpret through public art installations. These themes – Sustainability, Education & Literacy, the Arts & Design, Diversity & Human Rights, and Social Change – have the potential to have a significant impact on our community in the future. We are pleased to be partnering with Bernheim Arboretum & Research Forest (www.bernheim.org) to present the New Albany Public Art Project theme of Sustainability in 2015.

Artists Lee and Betty Benson of Jackson, TN, have created an art installation titled “I’d Rather Have a Tree” in front of the Carnegie Center for Art and History at 201 East Spring Street. Aristotle Georgiades and Gail Simpson, both of Stoughton, WI, will install their artwork titled “Exchange” near St. Marks Church, at the corner of Third and East Market Streets in downtown New Albany. The art installation by Allison Svoboda, of Chicago, IL, is titled “Helix Labyrinth” and will be located at the New Albany YMCA, at 33 State Street.

Lee and Betty Benson’s work titled “I’d Rather Have a Tree” takes the form of an abstracted grove of trees made from pre-cut lumber and equipped with solar-powered LED lights for night viewing. According to artist Lee Benson, “…the piece is intended to garner awareness that we as humans have limited resources.” The installation “I’d Rather Have a Tree” grew out of the artists’ concern for the rapid harvesting of the world’s forests and to call attention to the lack of adequate housing for homeless individuals. This is the Bensons’ second public artwork in New Albany; their installation “The Stage that New Albany Built” was part of the 2013 New Albany Public Art Project: Bicentennial Series. The Bensons (www.uu.edu/personal/lbenson) are looking forward to building and continuing their relationship with the city and the local Habitat for Humanity group, who ultimately will inherit the wood used in the construction of “I’d Rather Have a Tree”.

Artists Aristotle Georgiades and Gail Simpson together form the collaborative team Actual Size Artworks (www.actualsizeartworks.com). In their statement for the 2015 Public Art Project, the artists write, “This sculpture, ‘Exchange’, is based on the idea of a front porch, and is meant to act as a gathering space. Front porches are largely gone from contemporary homes; they represent an era before air conditioning, TV, and computers led people to relax indoors. Front porches represent a time when neighbors would sit outside their home on a pleasant evening and be available for conversation. The need for this kind of social space, at the intersection between public and private, is more acute than ever.” Georgiades and Simpson add, “This sculpture relates to the New Albany Public Art Project’s 2015 theme of Sustainability through the use of salvaged lumber obtained from job sites and the ReStore, the salvage business associated with Habitat for Humanity. This promotes the reuse of material that might otherwise end up in the landfill.”

Artist Allison Svoboda (www.allisonsvoboda.com) says of her work, “The installation ‘Helix Labyrinth’ represents the cycle of rebirth in nature. The metallic surface of the cut metal reflects the sky while the perforated surfaces create shadows from the sun; the very essence of our ecosystem. The designs are cut into the metal surface like the Japanese katagami technique of cut paper to recreate patterns found in nature.” Svoboda continues, “The piece is meant to be entered by the public so the viewer can be immersed and interact with the shadows and reflections in this meditative labyrinth… The sculptural form for ‘Helix Labyrinth’ is inspired by seed pods I discovered in the restored prairie near my house in Chicago. The curved segments create a spiral of fractals repeating throughout. This pattern in nature recalls mandalas or labyrinths, which many cultures build to worship nature. I hope that entering this labyrinth, with its reflections and shadows from the sun, honors nature and creates a space for the public to pay homage to nature.”

The jurors for the 2015 Public Art Project were Jim Clark, Integrated Arts Incorporated, Lexington, KY; Alice Gray Stites, Vice President and Museum Director, 21c Museum Hotels LLC, Louisville, KY; and Margy Waller, Topos Partnership and Art on the Streets, Cincinnati, OH. The community is invited to explore the 2015 artworks and talk with the artists during the New Albany Public Art Walk on Saturday June 6, from 6:00-9:00 pm (rain date Sunday June 7). For more information on the New Albany Public Art Project: Today & Tomorrow Series, please visit www.carnegiecenter.org/exhibit_nab.html and www.facebook.com/napublicart.