BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sept. 2, 2010) — The final stage of Bemidji State University’s renovation of the Sattgast Hall complex concluded in early August when installation was completed on a stainless steel fountain sculpture in the plaza between the hall and the lower Hobson Memorial Union.
The sculpture, called “In Flight,” was created by St. Paul-based sculptor Alexander Tylevich. Tylevich, an award-winning sculptor and architect with projects ranging from free-standing site-specific sculptures to a master plan of a metropolitan city, operates Studio Tylevich with Poline Tylevich.
Tylevich has designed a number of public art installations in southern Minnesota and also has installations in locations such as Chicago, Denver, Baton Rouge, La., Morgantown, W.V., and Blue Springs, Mo.
“Our selection committee was attracted to Alexander’s previous work, which included some very intricate and detailed science-related pieces,” said Dr. Patrick Guilfoile, interim associate vice president for academic affairs and chair of the committee that selected this piece for campus. “After hearing a presentation of his concept, the committee members thought it tied together themes related to the disciplines in the building to the adjacent butterfly garden. The committee also liked that this work brought some visual pizzaz to that part of campus.”
The sculpture was funded through the Minnesota Percent for Art in Public Places program, which is a legislated component of state public building projects. The program acquires works of art to be exhibited in and around state buildings in areas regularly accessible to the general public. Percent for Art purchases existing work or commissions artists to create new work especially for the state building or site.
Artwork is purchased with funds provided by Minnesota’s 1984 “Percent for Art” legislation, which encourages state building projects with construction or renovation budgets of $500,000 or more to use up to one percent of the total construction budget to purchase or commission original artwork for the site. Minnesota’s Percent for Art in Public Places is one of 26 state public art programs around the country that commission work to enliven our shared public spaces, and provide opportunities for artists. More than 130 art installations have been completed in the state of Minnesota using the Percent for Art program.
An asymmetrical “twister,” which surrounds a stainless steel mast more than 30 feet tall, serves the core of the sculpture. It takes off from the fountain and flies toward the butterfly garden and Lake Bemidji. The twister is supported by seven stainless steel cables and is inscribed with the names of the academic programs housed in Sattgast Hall – environmental studies, geology, biology, acquatic biology, chemistry, physics and nursing. It also is treated with a number of cast and fabricated elements and has seven built-in color-changing LED elements.
“The sculpture addresses several issues specific to its location,” Tylevich said. “The sculpture site has an irregular geometry, with quite a substantial difference in elevation between the walkway levels. Because of this, I felt the site required a very visible ‘destination’ sculpture.”
Lining the butterfly garden’s retaining wall are seven symbolic books made of dicroic glass panels of different colors, each representing one of the seven disciplines advanced in Sattgast Hall and representing the colorful butterflies who make their homes in the adjacent garden.
The fountain that serves as the sculpture’s base complements the sculpture in its shape and flow. The retaining wall around the fountain also provides a seating option on the plaza.
“In Flight” is crafted of stainless steel, stainless steel cables, cast and fabricated bronze, and colored and dichroic glass. At night, it is illuminated by built-in LED lighting in the upright mast.
The sculpture was installed by the Bemidji State University grounds crew and Studio Tylevich associates Brian Sobaski and Max Cora, with assistance from Gregg Judge and Bill Born from Kraus-Anderson Construction Company.