A young girl holds hope in her heart. A boy embraces a sailboat full of wishes and dreams for the future. Dolphins and whales ride rolling ocean waves. Otter and trout play in a river stream. Native plants and animals join together to stir the imagination of youth and adults.
As part of its Public Art initiative, the CREATE Project is pleased to announce the installation of the “Child Nature” sculpture at the Dunkirk Public Library. A combination of local diverse culture and a Mexican folk tale informed the creation of images incorporated in the “Child-Nature” sculpture. The artwork is designed to inspire youth and adults to care for children and nature and to bring attention to the importance of Chautauqua watershed conservation.
A community celebration
An event to unveil and celebrate this original public art is planned for Thursday, Aug. 12 at 5 p.m., at the front lawn of the library 536 Central Ave. The unveiling celebration will not only enlighten the community as to the significance of the Chautauqua County watershed but will also underline the CREATE Project mission: to create a community free of child-trauma, abuse, and neglect, where children are free to grow to their highest potential. All are welcome!
CREATE Project representatives will also be on hand to talk about the sculpture at the Dunkirk Library book sale on Saturday, Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Child Nature sculpture is composed of glazed stoneware ceramic tiles affixed to a central armature to form an 6-foot pillar. Two sides of the vertical rectangular sculpture depict images of children entwined with natural water sources including rivers and oceans. Alternate sides of the column show tiles adorned with images of regional and global flora and fauna. An educational brochure describing the sculpture project along with suggestions for caring for children and nature has been designed. The brochure will be distributed at the unveiling celebration and later at the Dunkirk library and other locations.
This piece of public art is the result of collaboration between the CREATE Project and a multitude of generous community benefactors:
≤ CREATE Project artisans oversaw the project and contributed art for the ceramic tiles.
¯ Dunkirk Public Library offered outdoor space for the installation of the sculpture. The library’s CREATE Project Room, reinforces the sculpture’s message to care for children and the environment. A related CREATE Project video series is currently under development.
¯ Mudslingers Pottery Studio owner Ron Nasca contributed the concept of the column sculpture, and also fabricated and fired the glazed terra cotta tiles.
¯ A. Carapella Masonry, a local independent contractor, generously donated the materials and poured the concrete foundation for the sculpture while renovating the steps for the Dunkirk Public Library this past summer.
¯ Hae Jude Custom Signs kindly contributed logo and educational signage.
¯ Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation awarded a Northern Chautauqua Environmental Fund grant to partially support the creation of the Child Nature sculpture. The fund supports programs that promote local environmental education, particularly as it relates to Lake Erie and its watershed.
¯ P-TECH, a multi-year program that prepares students for careers in advanced manufacturing, Academy generously donated the materials to build the armature. P-Tech staff William Smock, Jeremy Bryant and Nick Anson guided students Jeffrey DeYoung, Alex Kochanowski, Eric Mettler, Abby Post, Eric Raynor in the design, engineering, and fabrication of the steel armature for the sculpture.
¯ Special thanks also go to Robert and Jessica Walawender; P-TECH OMC staff Dawn Lehnen and Rich Valone for; and Anthony Bautista of Dunkirk Metal Products for end-phase troubleshooting and fabrication assistance.
¯ Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy collaborated on development of “Child Nature” brochure text designed to promote kindness to nature.
¯ Blossom Garden Friends Peace and Education Center collaborated on development of “Child Nature” brochure text to promote kindness to children.
¯ Artist Darlene Crawford contributed to the design and development of the educational brochure.
¯ The city of Dunkirk assisted in the installation and promotion of the project.
Jason Hammond, Executive Director of the Dunkirk Public Library commented, “The Library Board and our staff have been looking forward to this phase of the project ever since we began our collaboration with the CREATE Project in 2019.”
Nasca, added: “It was an interesting project. Several obstacles had to be overcome and it seemed to have worked out just fine.”
“Child-Nature” was strategically designed to be the first of a series. As such, considerable thought was given to the power of symbols and how they might reflect the values of our local community. The goal was to create a public art sculpture that has physical presence and compelling depth.
It is hoped that everyone concerned with children, families, community, and the environment will connect with the “Child-Nature” sculpture. Child-Nature will act as enchanting and educational reminder to pay attention to, respect, and respond to the nature of children and our natural environment. The work sets a high standard for the way we construct and connect the physical, natural, and social dimensions of our community. The piece recognizes our community’s heightened commitment to our children’s well-being and awareness of our relationship with the precious resources that nature extends to us.
Public art can help shape our community’s image and direction for decades to come. By underscoring the value of children, as well as the rich cultural and natural diversity of our area, “Child-Nature” is a work that visually advocates for children and the environment. The piece subtly suggests “understanding” as a remedy for societal cynicism, struggles, and angst. The antidote for these social maladies may lie in hope, reverence, and thoughtful consideration not only for our children, but also our own beautiful child-nature and earth nature. A spirit of appreciation and respect can form the foundation for lasting cultural change.
The intent is to make the art meaningful, and to impact the social and political directions of our community in the present and in generations to come. The narrative inspired by the visual elements will be subjectively construed, as children, their parents, and grandparents share their interpretations and relate their meanings to their own heritage and history.
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