Anyone who has ever rifled through their pockets or purse looking for a lost item will connect immediately with a public-art sculpture dedicated today by Metro Arts in Transit (AIT) at the MetroLink Station and MetroBus Transfer Center on St. Charles Rock Road in Pagedale. The sculpture – titled Honey, Where’s My Metro Pass – portrays that experience in a whimsical presentation of oversized coins, keys, a crumpled receipt and a lip balm that could have been spilled along the MetroLink platform by a frazzled passenger.
Fabricated in bronze, steel and aluminum, the artwork was unveiled and dedicated today by its sculptors, Nick Lang and Thad Duhigg, both of the Department of Art and Design at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. They were joined by Aaron Hamilton, one of the apprentices in a 2007 summer art class led by Lang and teaching artist Allen Kmetz at St. Louis ArtWorks who provided concepts, designs and models that helped inspire the sculpture. A group from the 2010 class of apprentices at
St. Louis ArtWorks joined in the dedication today.
David Allen, Director of AIT, said the artists’ concept makes the sculpture more accessible and enjoyable as a representation of the nearly universal experience of searching for an item in your pockets or purse.
“It was a pleasure working with St. Louis ArtWorks on this project,” Allen said. “I could tell that the artists and the student apprentices had a lot of fun, while simultaneously taking their work very seriously and producing a sculpture that complements and becomes part of its environment.”
Artist Thad Duhigg said, “This project was inspired in large part by St. Louis ArtWorks and specifically their energetic high-school students who served as apprentices. It was their observations about MetroLink passengers that guided the themes of this work.”
AIT commissioned the sculpture after selecting Lang and Duhigg in a competition. Lang is a sculpture professor in the Department of Art & Design at SIUE where Duhigg is chairman of the department.
Hamilton, who is completing his fourth year as a summer apprentice at St. Louis Artworks, was among Lang’s apprentices who began studying passengers on MetroLink to look for common objects that could be used to represent their commuting experience. Using that process for their basic concept, the apprentices assembled a list of items they had observed and then prepared artistic models to illustrate them. Those small pieces of art became the inspiration for Lang and Duhigg, whose primary change was to select gender-neutral items to feature in their sculpture.
Priscilla Block, Executive Director of St. Louis Artworks, said apprentices for each summer’s class are chosen from applications by students from across the St. Louis region. The apprentices earn minimum wage while working five days a week on art projects. “The program creates a sense of ownership for the apprentices and their families and is a great way to develop an appreciation and support for public art in the communities,” Block said.
Allen adds, “The artwork at Metro locations not only enhances transit customers’ experiences, but they create more attractive spaces that add value to nearby homes and businesses. Attractive public spaces help bring in tourists, business development and new jobs to communities. And it’s an added bonus that these projects provide jobs for the local artists, engineers and fabricators who work on them.”