National Endowment for Arts Fund 'Renewable Energy' Sculptures

Matt Cover | March 21, 2013 | 11:04am EDT
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Demonstration Village in Denver’s Sustainability Park (Courtesy of Sustainability Park’s website)

( – The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) gave $25,000 in taxpayer money to the city of Denver, the RedLine arts collective and several other groups to build “public sculptures that will produce renewable energy” in Denver’s Sustainability Park, a public facility demonstrating green technologies and other projects.

Funded in July 2012 under the Our Town grant program, the project will pay local artists to build the sculptures – on the condition that they produce renewable energy.

“The arts collective RedLine, the City of Denver, and seven additional organizations will collaborate on A Village Environment, a project within Sustainability Park that involves the creation of public sculptures that will produce renewable energy,” NEA’s funding announcement stated.

“The public sculptures will be commissioned via a competitive selection process, with the requirement of artistic excellence and the ability to generate power,” it added.

The artists will then “engage the community” to teach them the benefits of incorporating “sustainable design” into public works.

Sustainability Park boasts several urban gardens, a pond growing koi – large goldfish – and something called Demonstration Village – a project that showcases both temporary and permanent hi-tech huts for poor people in the third world to live in.

The park, according to a Google Maps image available on its website, appears to largely be a vacant lot in downtown Denver, holding a few small gardens at one end and the fish pond/greenhouse complex.

The statues will be part of a larger exhibit at the park planned for July called Imagined Realities that will feature several murals and other works in addition to the statues.

The exhibit’s curator, Cortney Lane Stell, told that the project would build four statues that incorporate the theme of green energy.

The first work will be a seven-foot diameter burlap cabbage filled with compost that will decompose over time, returning energy to the soil and eventually leaving only a plaque in the ground marking its location and naming the nutrients the work put into the soil.

The second work will be a makeshift Noah’s Ark made out of reclaimed wood and featuring an opening where viewers can write down what they would save if faced with the end of the world – highlighting what things people value.

The third work will be a Chinese Scholar’s Rock – a large naturally-shaped stone revered in dynastic China – that will be illuminated at night by solar-powered lights.

The fourth work will be a six-foot diameter circle made of 3-D printed plastic panels with LED lights attached. The lights will be powered by solar panels and will gradually illuminate as the sun sets, using the power of the setting sun to create light at night.

NEA representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

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