UNF students install new sculptures at local parks

Sculptures created by UNF students are popping up all around the river city. Reporter Lena Pringle spoke with the artists about their inspiration.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New art is coming to life in River City just in time for the summer.

Students at the University of North Florida are beautifying local parks with new sculptures.

“If we don’t have art, I mean we have nothing. Art is everything. It’s all around us,” said Kori Sares, a senior at UNF.

"Naiad" by UNF alumna Jenn Peek and "The Green Goddess" by UNF senior Kori Sares are among the sculptures being installed at local parks. (Photos provided by UNF)

Sares is one of eight students who will be installing their personally designed sculptures in James Weldon Johnson and Seaside Sculpture Parks over the next two weeks.

“My piece is ‘The Green Goddess’...taking these preexisting forms that remind me of the Hart Bridge and kind of flipping them on their head into this kind of feminine, sensual kind of piece that was still reminiscent of the Hart Bridge but could stand on its own,” said Sares.

The theme for the sculptures in James Weldon Johnson Park is bridges.

“The idea of bridges, not walls, you know? I think it’s a way to connect people not separate people and I think that that’s an important concept too,” said Jenny Hager, professor of sculpture at UNF.

At Seaside Sculpture Park there’s no specific theme for students to follow, but Jenn Peek, a UNF alumna, said her sculpture’s inspiration is sea based with a focus on mermaids.

“She’s not fully formed and that’s based on the idea of a memory...that’s this idea that the memory kind of fades overtime but it’s still there like the sentiment behind it,” Peek said.

The students design smaller versions of their sculptures called maquettes.

They then source the materials needed to build the art and get to work.

A project that typically takes one school year, has now taken nearly two years to complete because of the pandemic.

These public art pieces will be installed on Friday, April 16 and Friday, April 23.

Here is the schedule:

James Weldon Johnson Park

  • Friday, April 16, beginning at 9 a.m.
    • Installing:
      • “The Green Goddess” steel tubing sculpture by Kori Sares
      • “Bold City Skyline” 1/4 plate steel and powder coated sculpture by Caelen Proctor
      • “Aireachtáil spire” steel sheet and tubing sculpture by Will Cobb
    • Deinstalling two student sculptures

Seaside Sculpture Park

  • Friday, April 23, Time TBD
    • Installing:
      • “Naiad” steel, foam, epoxy and clay sculpture by Jenn Peek
      • “All Knowing” steel sculpture by Darby Carver
      • “Water Tribe” steel sculpture by Alexandria Kierecki
      • “Lucid Doodles” steel sculpture by Adreona Perkowski
      • “Level IV: Complex Information” steel, iron and concrete sculpture by Brennan Wojtyla

“I think public art is vital to our community because not everybody goes into a museum or gallery, not everyone has that experience. And so it’s a way to impact and beautify your community,” said Peek.

“Actually, seeing them realize the project at the end and being like I made that. I’m going to take my family to see it and I’m going to take my friends to see it. You know just being really proud of that sort of accomplishing something that’s pretty significant,” said Hager.

While the themes and sculptures may be different, the goal is the same: to make the River City more beautiful through art that everyone can see and feel.

The will also be deinstalling five student sculptures that will be available for auction soon; you can contact Jenny Hager at j.hager@unf.edu for auction information.