SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The City of South Bend is partnering with the University of Notre Dame and installing sculptures in roundabouts across the city.
It’s all in an effort to make downtown South Bend a more vibrant place and welcome visitors.
“We believe in public art in all forms,” said Interim Executive Director of Community Investment Jitin Kain. “The roundabouts offer a great opportunity for public art because the center of the roundabouts is really empty and it’s calling for something as a gateway feature”
The sculptures, “Fern Temple VI”, “Wedding Cakes”, and “Temple Carousel” can be viewed along Michigan Street near Bartlett and Marion streets on the city’s north side and at Chippewa Avenue on the south side.
A grant from the Community of St. Joseph County paid for the artworks.
“There’s a lot of great opportunities for public art,” said Rev. Austin Collins.“It gives everyone a chance to reflect on a discussion of public art. It’s right there, in your face”
Collins is a sculpture professor at Notre Dame who created the pieces.
The artist says “Fern Temple VI” is a 33-foot sculpture inspired by he calls the healthy, innovative environment created in South Bend over the last few years.
“Wedding Cakes” is an abstract take on marriage and “Temple Carousel” is inspired by a trip Collins took to Haiti.
“You have to walk into a museum or gallery to look at art often and this is like architecture,” said Collins. “It’s out there in the public.”
The city plans to keep the sculptures up for the next year. If the initiative is deemed successful, then the city plans to create a rotating public art exhibit where new pieces by local artists will be installed in the roundabouts periodically.
“We expect this will start a conversation in the community about the value of public art,” said Kain. “It’s a place making feature. It helps create a sense of place. It helps people feel like we’re part of a city that believes in art and in culture.”