Poet Laureate Park

Submitted by Troy Corliss

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Client: Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission

Location: Sacramento, CA, United States

Completion date: 2015

Artwork budget: $96,000

Project Team

Artist

Troy Corliss

Public Art Agent

Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission

Industry Resource

Brad Rollins

Point 2 Structural Engineers, Inc.

Industry Resource

Greg Drummond

MD Builders, Inc.

Industry Resource

Shawn Ayers

AyersTech LLC

Overview

The concept for a “Poet Park” was first introduced to SMAC in 2005 by Julia Connor during her tenure as Sacramento’s Poet Laureate. Ms. Connor’s intention was to foster civic pride by creating a poetry project that celebrated the spoken word. The artwork consists of six unique corten steel sculptures that honor past and present Sacramento Poets Laureate: Bob Stanley, Julia Connor, Jeff Knorr, Viola Weinberg, Dennis Schmitz and Jose Montoya. Installed in the open space between the South Natomas Library and the South Natomas Community Center buildings, the sculptures are intended to be read as a unifying whole.

Goals

Poet Laureate Park is designed to celebrate and honor the City of Sacramento’s Poets Laureate. Through the creation of this project Troy worked individually with each of the 6 poets laureate who served between 2002-2015. The artists intent with each sculpture was to incorporate the poets text with in the 3-dimentional design of the sculptures in the park setting. Together, the 6 freestanding sculptures create a place at the South Natomas Library & Community Center where visitors may discover and reflect on the written word.

The artist intended for a general cohesiveness with in the park as a whole, yet with in the group, allowing each sculpture to express the individual character of each poets work. Secondly, working with text in a 3 dimensional form embodies interesting physical considerations. To allow each poets voice to be expressed, the text should be easily readable in the final artwork. From a visual perspective, the text can also be seen as abstract design elements that help to form the geometry of each sculpture. Troy allowed the design and placement of the sculptures in the park-like setting to invite viewers in for a closer look and examine the text with in.

Process

Text as public art?! Certainly the thought begs the question: “how can the aesthetic of the spoken word translate into a visual language and into physical form?”

Since poetry by nature, is inquisitive, the primary objective in the collaborative process was to create a vehicle that lifted poetry off the page and into the physical realm. At it’s essence, the project needed to allow viewers to experience the poetry with a sense of discovery.

Poetry is primarily a verbal craft and intrinsically fleeting. To bring form to text, each poet offered selections of their work and engaged in an ongoing conversation about the interaction between the physicality of the text and the meaning within. Thinking about the cadence and rhythm of the text as it was read aloud, choices surrounding Font, Kerning and Page Layout define the graphic presentation of the text and help to express the content with in each poem. The 3 dimensional designs and park setting became an extension of the text formatting. Collectively, the group of sculptures set the stage for the viewers experience. As visitors stroll though the park and read the text, they engage in an unfolding of the poems in 3 dimensional space.