(Stillwater, OK) – “Interlaced,” a major piece of public art, was dedicated Friday, Dec. 1, in Stillwater, thanks to the generosity of community members with a vision of providing a beautiful welcome at one of the city’s busiest intersections. A series of private donations, first the land, then funding to beautify the corner at 6th Avenue and Western Road that is considered a gateway to Stillwater, made the sculpture project possible. “Interlaced” is a massive piece, consisting of interwoven ribbons of aluminum measuring 16 feet high, 30 feet wide and 15 feet deep.
Artist Morgan Robinson, a Stillwater native who maintains his studio in his hometown and creates organic sculptures that are displayed across the nation in public spaces, private collections and galleries, said it communicates something about how he sees the community where he chooses to make his home. And watching the excitement of the crew of 20 workers that turned up at 4 a.m. to load his work, transport it across town and set it in place just emphasized the sense of community he wanted to evoke with “Interlaced.”
Robinson’s artist statement for the piece spoke to the search committee, who saw a reference to Stillwater’s somewhat transient nature as a college town with people coming and going, but also a recognition its strong sense of community that creates lasting impressions and forms lifelong bonds.
“It will serve as a tangible celebration of Stillwater – that regardless of where we come from or where the future takes us – we will all be tied together,” Robinson wrote when submitting the design for consideration in 2021.
“Interlaced,” was overwhelmingly chosen by 1,200 community voters and was part of an original field of 15 designs from across the globe, said Kristine Waits, a resident who spearheaded the project. She describes the piece as being both beautiful and substantial, two of the search committee’s key requirements.
“But it’s also purposeful,” Waits said. “It incorporated all that we hoped for and more. It just really works, it’s really moving.”
Assistant City Manager Brady Moore noted that “Interlaced,” is actually a gift from Robinson to his hometown. With more than 1,500 hours invested in the piece by Robinson and his studio assistant Arley Boyd, any other client would have paid much more.
“What makes this project special so special is that it started with a vision, it included a one-of-a-kind, talented, local artist and it brought together contributions from the community and businesses, and collaboration with the local city government,” Moore said. “We want this art piece to inspire more artwork in Stillwater’s future. We want ‘Interlaced’ to encourage others to join in the effort to find ways to integrate art into new and existing developments.”
The Stillwater Arts and Humanities Council served as the non-profit fundraising arm for the effort, taking in $55,000 in private monetary donations to cover the cost of creating “Interlaced.” Arts and Humanities Council President Rebecca Brienen said providing that kind of support is part of the organization’s mission. It was satisfying to see the project’s completion and she believes it sets the stage for more community art in Stillwater.
The base that supports the sculpture was built with the help of in-kind contributions from Gose & Associates engineering, Kerns Construction and Lopp Construction.
“It’s incredible to know there are so many people who care about our community and want to see it flourish,” Waits said. “As people learned about it, they asked ‘How can I be involved?’”
The land was donated to the City of Stillwater in 2017 by the late Jon and Nancy Patton. Jon Patton, a former Stillwater mayor, wanted to take an awkward corner property with a driveway too close to a busy intersection and create a spot that would welcome people to the city. Waits said she contacted the Patton family when proposing what was known as The Gateway Project, to make sure they would be happy with the changes. Son Barry Patton said his parents’ love of art made it a natural fit.
A large welcome sign, landscaping and lighting previously placed at the corner was removed to make way for “Interlaced,” but the elements were reused in a display at Boomer Lake Park.
Mayor Will Joyce praised both the “Interlaced,” project and the people who made it happen.
“Stillwater benefits from public art in so many ways, from creating a unique sense of place, to enhancing tourism, and improving our residents’ pride in and connection to their hometown,” Joyce said. “I am so appreciative of the donors, the Arts and Humanities Council, Morgan Robinson and all of the city staff who have worked to make this new landmark a reality in Stillwater.”
“Interlaced” artist Morgan Robinson cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony while community members celebrate the sculpture that represents the spirit of Stillwater.
Pictured left to right: Vice Mayor Amy Dzialowski, Asst. City Manager Brady Moore, Kristine Waits, Artist Morgan Robinson, Rebecca Brienen, City Manager Kimberly Meek, Mayor Will Joyce
News release written by Michelle Charles with photography provided by Erick Moreau.