Affinities

Submitted by Ben Owen

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Client: North Hennepin Community College

Location: Brooklyn Park, MN, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $84,000

Overview

Affinities was commissioned by the Minnesota State Arts Board in partnership with North Hennepin Community College (NHCC) in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. The artwork is a vibrant, interactive sculpture located along the second floor glass curtain wall of the new Bioscience and Health Careers Center at NHCC. Viewable from multiple points within and outside of the building, the artwork consists of eight Varia Ecoresin panels suspended from a bypassing track allowing visitors freedom to rearrange the panels to create visual associations between the interdisciplinary fields of study being taught at the new center.

Goals

The Bioscience and Health Careers Center houses biology, chemistry, nursing, and medical laboratory technician programs at NHCC. The goals for the project were to commission artwork that:

  • Communicates the thrill of scientific discovery;
  • Reinforces the college’s connection to the community of Brooklyn Park;
  • Provides a significant artistic expression for the campus;
  • Contributes to the local, regional, and national dialogue on contemporary art;
  • Complements the architecture and reflects the programmatic use of the facility; and
  • Enriches and diversifies the State of Minnesota's public art collection.

Process

Hancock's design is an overlay of a Delaunay triangulation and a Voronoi diagram that incorporates custom text provided by the community emphasizing scientific discovery and learning as fundamental aspects of the college experience. Two community engagement sessions were organized at the college, during which members of NHCC faculty, staff, and students provided words and phrases for the project.

Through a formal RFP process, the Arts Board solicited qualifications from professional public artists or artist-led teams residing in the United States. Evaluation of artist’s qualifications was conducted by a site selection committee designated to represent the public interest during the process of artwork selection. This group of individuals determined the scope of the project, method of acquisition, type of competition, and who could apply. The committee also reviewed and approved the artist's design proposals prior to awarding the commission. The committee is chaired by the non-voting Arts Board program officer in charge of directing the Percent for Art program, and generally contains at least five and no more than seven members, including:

  1. Two or three persons representing the residents/users of the building;
  2. One person representing the primary architect or design firm; and
  3. Two or three arts or design professionals.