December 19, 2007

Students Create Public Sculptures for Easton

Artwork has been installed in Riverside Park

Two art majors, Peter Huntley ’08 (Westport, Conn.) and Marissa Halderman ’09 (Rushland, Pa.), have recently made a tangible contribution to the revitalization of downtown Easton. They have each completed a public sculpture as an independent study project under the guidance of Alastair Noble, assistant professor of art. The sculptures were installed in Riverside Park along the Delaware River on Dec. 10.

A reception for the artists took place in the Cancer Awareness Garden in the park, where Huntley’s sculpture now stands, on Dec. 12, and was sponsored by the Easton TRACC office and Women in Business.

“I believe sculpture/ public art in Easton will help to greatly rejuvenate the spirit of the public,” explains Noble. “I have been working closely with Public Works personnel in downtown Easton who are very enthusiastic about my initiative to bring student work to these green spaces and parks. Marissa’s project was even approved by the mayor of Easton.”

Halderman’s sculpture, titled “Twin Rivers,” was inspired by the converging Lehigh and Delaware rivers and is, essentially, a three-dimensional map of these two rivers as they come together. The sculpture is construed from a satellite image of the rivers’ convergence and tediously fashioned out of PVC pipe. It is positioned parallel to the Delaware River where the children’s playground stood prior to the last flood and is directed toward the actual junction of the rivers further downstream.

Halderman believes her sculpture to be a monument to the natural beauty and importance of the rivers to Easton’s cultural development.

“The location in the confluence of the rivers has made the area significant to people long before the Europeans,” Halderman explains. “Essential to the development of Easton, the rivers have served as an important water supply allowing the city to become the hub of the steel industry in the 1800s. Today, Easton owes its heritage to the rivers while they pose a threat of flooding. As flooding appears to be increasing, I believe it forces the city to question important issues regarding the current state of the world– from suburban development along the banks to global warming. I hope the sculpture will make people take a minute and think about Easton’s twin rivers whether it is for their geologic beauty or social significance.”

Huntley, a guitar and cello player who is fascinated with the construction of musical instruments, created a wind harp in the shape of a guitar.

“The top of the piece is in the shape of an acoustic guitar and each side of the box it sits on is cut with a soundhole that further resembles an acoustic guitar,” explains Huntley.

The sculpture is strung with real guitar strings and emits sound when the wind passes through it.

The purpose of the sculpture, Huntley says, is “to make some kind of music on a windy day, but more than that, I hope it’s just nice to look at. It’s not meant to have any real message behind it; I just hope anyone who passes by enjoys the way it looks in its location.”

“In this particular setting,” adds Noble, “[Huntley’s sculpture] draws attention to the Cancer Awareness Garden, which hopefully reminds the public of this terrible problem. Public art, in this case, acts as a metaphor for healing and growth.”

Huntley will spend his last semester working on another public sculpture under Noble’s direction and, afterwards, hopes to begin building guitars professionally. He is very enthusiastic about the preparation he is receiving from his studies.

“I’m getting as much studio experience as I can, working with different sorts of materials (mostly wood) and learning about the different tools in the shop,” says Huntley. “Next semester will be my fourth semester working in the sculpture studio with Professor Noble, so I have had plenty of time to practice.”

Halderman is considering public art as a possible direction after college. Her plans to pursue this interest further include an internship with public artists Patricia Leighton and Del Geist in New York City this summer through the College’s internship/externship program.

Halderman performed EXCEL research with Noble last summer, for which she built a scale model one tenth the size of Noble’s “Babel” installation in Lima, Peru, and worked with Nobel on other public art projects in the Easton community.

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