Through a partnership between the University of Iowa Office of Community Engagement, the University of Iowa School of Art and Art History, and the City of Webster City, Iowa, faculty member Dan Miller and his students designed and constructed a “solar sculpture” that will become a permanent installation of functional art in downtown Webster City.
With funding support from the EPIC-N network and the JPB Foundation, following a grant application made by the Office of Community Engagement, the City of Webster City will add a new public art piece in their downtown district. This public art piece incorporates dynamic elements powered by solar energy, as both an aesthetic and functional component of the installation with the intention of helping local businesses and residents better understand the potential for solar as a renewable energy source in Webster City.
The sculpture was also designed to reflect Webster City's history and identity. The inspiration and design best articulated by the artist’s early description of the concept:
“I was looking for a distinctive feature of the Webster City area and settled on framing this project around the Boone River. The structure of this sculpture takes the meandering shape of the river as found on a map and turns this into a stylized physical structure made from ground stainless steel that emits light. The “river structure” will be elevated and become the back of a winding seat that crosses the site diagonally. The canopy over head is a based on the Webster city street plan. The river will project light of green and blue hues onto this metal screen “canopy”.
This project celebrates the Boone River by creating a sculpture made from stainless steel that is visually pleasing during the day and night. While the lights and sounds of this sculpture will operate during the day, in the evening the blue and green LED light will be stunning as it reflects off the ground stainless steel surfaces. This project will activate the site and create a destination where local residents can relax and engage the sculpture and space.
On-site installation and a ribbon cutting ceremony were held in August 2019.