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Art prof coordinates public art project in Hudson

SEPT. 29, 2006--A new public artwork Lakefront Park in Hudson, Wis. was assisted by Lynn Jermal, a professor in the art department at UW-River Falls, who worked with community members as well as youth and their parents to create one of three art benches funded by various agencies in the St. Croix Valley through the Phipps Center for the Arts.  

As the artist hired by the Phipps Center for the Arts to design the project, Jermal worked with Anastasia Shartin, visual arts director at the Phipps, and Liz Malanaphy, the Hudson Destination Imagination coordinator.

The idea for "River Bench" came from children in the DI program. Several Saturday workshops were held, which introduced the youngsters, ranging from age 5 to 16, to Hudson history, the different methods of sculpture.

Their ideas resulted in three model designs that Jermal developed and presented for feedback from the children and parents.

"The students were most interested in the railroads and the river as important aspects of Hudson's development," said Jermal, "Designs for the benches were developed around both ideas."

The students chose the river theme in the form of a fish in three sections as their favorite and proceeded to make suggestions to improve or change the sculptural quality of the design. "The students were very astute and creative," Jermal said.

After this design stage, the group sought approval from the Park Board and then proceeded with the plan for fabricating the design.  

With a taped outline to scale on the floor of her studio, Jermal consulted with area contractors including Bob Dabruzzi, who helped design the cement slab, and Rob Bosworth, who volunteered his expertise to laser etch marble fragments with history facts.

Jermal also collaborated with Don Hammer, a metal artist from Stillwater, who fabricated the rebar armature. About 10 Hudson teens helped coat the armature, first with metal lathe and then two layers of cement.

Back at her studio, designs for the bench surface were prepared from the children's drawings and then created in glass mosaic tiles in workshops that Jermal conducted at the Phipps Center.

All the images created in mosaic had themes relating to the St Croix River, including nature, wildlife, early scenes and student self-portraits. In August the art team completed the bench by coating it with a concrete mortar to secure the mosaics.  

Parents and family also joined in on the creation as well as passers-by. "The Brown family came and worked on mosaics after talking to us while we were fabricating the armature in the Park," Jermal said.

About 60 people including Shartin of the Phipps and Jill Shannon of the St, Croix Valley Community Foundation, got their hands dirty and worked to create the final piece.

The River Bench is approximately 20' x 20' and is located on the south end of Lakefront Park near the playground. The bench will be dedicated in the spring on Sunday, March 24, 2007, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Jermal is a resident of Hudson and has taught at UW-River Falls since 1985. She has guided many public art works in the St. Croix Valley, including works on campus and a mural in 2004 at the Hudson Middle School.

"I have a new appreciation for the gifts of the river, how it enhances our community and has always been a life giving and inspirational force," said Jermal. "A touch of the spirit of each person involved in creating the River Bench resides in its colorful surface. The students who worked on every stage did such a terrific job, and the parents who pitched in on the process were full of energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes the children were trying to get their parents to stop working and go home--the art process can be addicting."



Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:07:35 Central Daylight Time


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