ROCK HILL, S.C. - Tiny parasites, layers of fungus and tree rings may seem unlikely sources of inspiration, but these natural forms spurred the creation of seven sculptural works in Old Town Rock Hill.
Produced in time for Rock Hill’s recent Muse Fest, the seven new student-created sculptural works will be dedicated officially at the Main Street site with a news conference on Dec. 1 at 11 a.m. The event will address the innovative partnership and honor the fine arts students enrolled in Winthrop’s Sculpture I class under the direction of Shaun Cassidy, associate professor of fine arts at Winthrop.
The sculptures, placed atop a series of poles, are housed at the corner of East Main Street and Dave Lyle Boulevard. Student themes and teams for the first Main Street Sculpture Gallery project emerged from the following natural images:
• Microscopic parasites: Sarah Gregory, Erica Hoelper
• Tree rings and the formation of a fly’s eye: Sarah Scherini, Lauren Hagen
• X-ray images of a shell: John Williams
• Layering of fungus found in the Amazon rainforest: Natalie Rushing, Chelsea Arthur
• Neuron-like structures making reference to connectivity: Bryanna Smith, Rebecca Teuber
• Microscopic images of shark skin: Zach Greenway, Josiah Blevins
• Layers of delicate fungus and coral: Brittany Mason, Adriano Amabile
Cassidy explained that the inspiration for these metal sculptures "came from looking at natural forms in a unique way." His students located images of natural forms viewed under a microscope and X-ray images of forms and objects from the natural world. Later, the student-artists developed a series of concept drawings and made two models each. After reviewing the models, students learned how to weld, cut, form and finish metal. The students worked in teams of two and collaborated on all aspects of the project, explained Cassidy.
"These projects allow students to feel connected to the city in which they spend so much time," Cassidy said. He noted that "the benefits of real-world projects are that students are forced to think about their work on a different level of scale, context and permanence. Students are forced to address issues of safety, appropriateness of design and durability of materials while also celebrating creativity, community and collaboration."
Future partnerships between the Department of Fine Arts and Old Town’s built environment initiatives include the design and fabrication of downtown bike racks, further enhancement of the Main Street Sculpture Gallery and collaborative planning for the Old Town Market’s anticipated Caldwell Street location. In the past, fine arts students have been involved in visually descriptive street signage and decorative fencing in Old Town.
Partnerships like the Main Street Sculpture Gallery allow students to be involved in every aspect of creating public art, according to Tom Stanley, chair of Winthrop's Department of Fine Arts. Moreover
"This partnership marks a unique learning experience that will engage students in the research, planning and, often times, fabrication of functional and enriching design. These are important steps toward reclaiming the value of civic responsibility and ownership of our communities," said Stanley.
Other Winthrop Department of Fine Arts projects in downtown and on display in time for ChristmasVille include the M.F.A. student exhibition "Storyline" at the Getty’s Arts Center Loading Dock Gallery (Dec. 1-22); "MMMMM," an exhibition in the Gettys Arts Center Basement Gallery by B.F.A. student Avery Collins (through Dec. 4); and the Senior Photography Exhibition "Underexposed" at 154 East Main St. (artists' reception on Dec. 2 at 4 p.m.; exhibition on display through Dec. 4). The Department of Theatre and Dance RockHettes will perform downtown for ChristmasVille on Dec. 2 and Dec. 5 to open and close festivities.
The Main Street Sculpture Gallery is a collaborative project of Rock Hill Economic Development Corporation, Old Town Association, Arts Council of York County, city of Rock Hill, ACE Projects at Winthrop, Winthrop's Department of Fine Arts and Winthrop's College of Visual and Performing Arts.