“Heart and Soul,” a large outdoor sculpture by Karen Yank of Albuquerque, New Mexico, will be dedicated Friday in a 10 a.m. ceremony open to the public at the Chicoine Center Plaza at Chadron State College.
Yank is pleased with the way her sculpture reflects the local topography.
“I’m excited. The piece really feels like the spirit of your area. It reflects elements of the prairie grasses of the Great Plains, while highlighting the beautiful big sky and open vistas found in this region of Nebraska,” Yank said. “‘Heart and Soul’ celebrates everything CSC has worked toward and achieved thus far. It symbolizes what the college is putting back into the world. In my artwork, the prairie lands are the stable, fertile environment that fosters this growth, providing the perfect metaphor to represent the college and its students.”
Yank will answer students’ questions about her sculpture Thursday in Memorial Hall Room 232 at a 2 p.m. reception.
The 12-foot high, 14-foot wide sculpture weighs about 2,000 pounds. Yank said it is made of steel, stainless steel, and a metal with a high copper content. Yank uses sandblasting and acid to accelerate the rusting process and its associated colors.
“I work primarily in mixed metals, because of their strength and durability while providing a beautiful and varied tactile presence through the surfaces’ beautiful textures and colors. My sculpture will look virtually the same in 20 years, while requiring little to no maintenance,” Yank said.
Yank hopes that viewing the sculpture will create a thought provoking and inviting focal point for the campus.
“The organic nature of my design and materials will provide a visual contrast to the angular architectural style of the Chicoine Center, while also displaying similarities through visual strength and color palette. Viewers will be treated to a varying shadow dance created by the Nebraska sun, providing an inviting, changing presence throughout the day and into the evening,” Yank said. “The piece also captures the way the winds create a dance with the grasses.”
“Heart and Soul” is the first outdoor sculpture to be installed on campus since “The Muses” east of Old Admin in 2011, and it is the second Nebraska 1% for Art piece since “You Feel Like Waving,” a suspended beaded replica of a little bluestem grass root system was dedicated in the Rangeland Complex in 2018.
The art selection committee determined the criteria for the location and interviewed artists for the project. Committee members are: Joel Smith, Sarah Dykes, Kaleb Center, Laura Bentz, Aaron Field, Lucinda Mays, Silas Kern, Pam Anderson, Riann Mullis, and Meagan Dion, Public Art and Artist Programs Specialist with the Nebraska Arts Council.
Yank has 50 large scale projects across the country including a 500-foot section on pedestrian bridges over I-40 in Albuquerque, four sculptures in New York City, and 16 pieces in Boulder, Colorado.
She spent many hours learning how to weld and the technical side of sculpting with her father, Paul Yank, at his Wisconsin studio. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Rutgers University, where another of her outdoor works is installed.