Gladiolus

Submitted by MGA Sculpture Studio, LLC

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Client: Saint Petersburg Police Department

Location: Saint Petersburg, FL, United States

Completion date: 2019

Artwork budget: $380,000

Project Team

Artist

Mark Aeling

MGA Sculpture

Client

St. Petersburg Police Department

St. Petersburg Police Department

Overview

“Gladiolus” greets visitors approaching the St. Petersburg Police Department as a take on the legendary flower of the gladiator, a symbol of beauty and strength.

Created as part of a two-part commission for the newly constructed police station, the 22-foot the Gladiolus blossom stands strong and elegant at the corner of the plaza representing the role of the law enforcement in the community. Its petals symbolize the police that protect with honor and integrity, while the mirrored sphere on its interior represents the community they serve. As visitors gaze into the sphere ,they see themselves reflected as participants in the community.

On the building’s interior, Mark created “Shielded”, a 30-foot eagle wing that offers comfort and protection to visitors. As a local artist whose efforts and heart remain loyal to his city, Mark recognized the importance of a symbol for the revitalization of St. Petersburg when pitching this project.

Goals

The St. Petersburg Police Department looked for two things when commissioning these pieces: (1) Works that were inviting to the public; would soften the department's image; and add to the city's rich appreciation for art; and (2) Sculptures that the officers could be proud of, connecting the building and space with a feeling of duty and pride.

The design for "Gladiolus" is based on the gladiolus flower, which in ancient times was worn by gladiators into battle. This was a perfect combination as a flower is generally associated as something beautiful and inviting, but is transformed into a strong presence. The interior sphere is representative of the community, which is protected by the values surrounding it.

Process

There were unique challenges in creating "Gladiolus". The petals started as 1:6 foam carvings that were 3D scanned and manipulated digitally to realize the form. The structure for each petal utlizes a waffling technique, which is very structurally resilient but presented unique fabrication and engineering challenges. Each petal is incapable of standing on its own, but when fastened together is capable of withstanding a Category 5 hurricane.