Engage

Submitted by Janet Lofquist

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Client: Connecticut Art in Public Places

Location: E. C. Goodwin Technical High School, New Britain, Connecticut, United States

Completion date: 2013

Artwork budget: $350,000

Project Team

Industry Resource

Michael Cohen

Schuler Shook Lighting

Industry Resource

Steven Johnson

Rainville Carlson

Industry Resource

Coldspring Granite

Industry Resource

Ken Green

Mattson MacDonald Young Engineers

Industry Resource

John Chipko

Kaestle Boos Associates

Artist

Janet Lofquist

Janet Lofquist LLC

Overview

The work is comprised of seven large gear wheels that create a rhythmic presence along the school’s facade. The gear wheels are made from weathering steel, stainless steel and aluminum using various fabrication methods. The surface of each wheel is perforated with a sequence of circular openings that create a dynamic play of light and shadow, glowing from within at night.

Two groups of granite benches create a secondary component of the work. As bookends to the assemblage of gear wheels they create sculptural spaces for gathering. The bench assembly details suggest various joinery techniques and methods.

Goals

The artwork for E.C. Goodwin Technical High School has been developed with consideration of the site, the context of the school and the relationship between art and architecture. The visual elements symbolically refer to both the technical emphasis of the school curriculum, connecting structure and materials, as well as academic, connecting concepts and giving form to thoughts and ideas.

In addition to animating the large expanse of lawn on the side of the building, the work creates a seating area for students as they wait for the buses at the end of the day and at night while attending extracurricular activities.

Process

Students at E.C. Goodwin selected the quotes that are inscribed into the seating surfaces of the granite benches. The quotes suggest multiple interpretations of the word Engage and Connect. As an example a quote from Archimedes: "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world".

With the emphasis of technical skills at the high school, the artist chose to showcase a number of fabrication techniques, combine a variety of materials and involve a number fabricators to complete the large-scale installation. The techniques included laser cutting, metal spinning, welding and granite fabrication. In addition, the integration of L.E.D. lighting was crucial to the nighttime presence of the work.