guest blog post by Anna Huntington, Destination Rapid City community arts coordinator
One of the largest public art projects in the United States is coming to life in Rapid City this summer — and you can be part of it!
Master sculptor Masayuki Nagase started carving The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water at Main Street Square in the heart of Downtown Rapid City on July 1. The artist works on the 21-piece granite sculpture on site at the Square most weekdays. Using traditional hand tools and working behind a safety barrier equipped with large viewing windows, Nagase carves his design depicting the natural and cultural past, present and future of the Black Hills and Badlands.
Masayuki Nagese carving on opening day, July 1
The massive Sculpture Project includes two “Garden Tapestries” of stones that are punctuated by two 35-foot-high granite spires. Nagase’s work is always inspired by nature and his visual design theme for the pieces of granite in the Badlands Garden Tapestry along Main Street is wind. For the Black Hills Garden Tapestry along Sixth Street, his theme is water. The artist’s design describes the impact of these natural forces on the landscape and inhabitants of the region. His overall theme for Passage of Wind and Water is transformation, change and hope.
Nagase trained at the Academy of Fine Arts in Tokyo and has worked as a stone sculptor for more than 30 years. He lives in California with his family and will be working on The Sculpture Project during the summer months over the next three to five years.
The artist was selected by a community-based selection committee from an international pool of nearly 100 applicants last year.
As a large, outdoor public artwork in granite, The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water builds on the region’s sculpting tradition established by Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest outdoor sculptures.
The Rapid City project takes the area’s sculpting tradition in a new direction, too, as a work that incorporates community input and is intended as a tribute to the community. Over the winter, Nagase held a series of community design workshops to gather information about people’s connection to nature in the region and will continue that process as the project unfolds. Before he carves the two spires, he will take handprints from community members, which he will sandblast into the spires in an upwardly spiraling pattern indicating hope for the future of the community.
You can catch the artist at the Square most weekdays. On some Fridays, when he’s finished working, Nagase will give informal talks describing the project and the week’s progress. Some Thursdays, you’ll find the artist at his studio in the nearby Dahl Arts Center, which he’ll open to visitors from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Find out more at the project’s website: www.rcsculptureproject.com and follow us on Facebook.