Asa Bales sculpture a reflection on past, present and future
Passaggio, the new sculpture at the Asa Bales Park entrance on Union Street, functions as an entry passageway for residents and visitors, as well as a space to explore and experience the park itself. The work of art also signifies a transition for the city and its artist – Katey Bonar.
“It’s wonderful for Westfield. It’s transitioning into a future community with art awareness,” she said. “It’s a transition for me into the public sphere. . . It’s been a journey for me to finish the project and my undergrad at the same time.”
Bonar, who recently graduated from Herron School of Art and Design, began the sculpture last summer.
“My senior year was about this project. It’s the biggest thing I’ve ever made and my first outside piece,” she said. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity. It’s helped me get real world experience in public art which is hard to start out with as an undergraduate.”
Passaggio is made of three 13-foot columns, a skeleton of steel tubing with a skin of fiberglass covered polyurethane foam. Bonar said each column weighs approximately 500 pounds and is anchored into the ground with a concrete base. Connecting the three columns tops are 10 concentric rings of steel tubing (the largest with a diameter of 10 feet), suspended by aircraft cables. On the sidewalk near the columns are two ring groupings made of thermoplastic that make up part of the trail that runs through the sculpture.
Melody Jones, Westfield Parks and Recreation Dept. director, announced a few years ago that the Grand Junction Task Group was looking into starting an Art Commission for downtown Westfield. During this process they looked at different ways to display public art.
“Herron Art School has a program in place that connects art students with the community to come up with a project to benefit both parties,” she said. “The class came to Westfield for a visit and we went to Herron for a presentation of sculpture ideas the students came up with. Katey’s sculpture was selected.”
City officials said Westfield paid $20,000 for the sculpture.
“I think bringing art into the parks is a wonderful idea and it provides a new dimension to the quality of life one can experience in our community,” Jones said.
“One of our goals has been to make art a fixture of our community and I believe displaying public art, like our new sculpture and the mural downtown, adds to the community spirit,” added Mayor Andy Cook. “I am thrilled that the Grand Junction chose this piece, not only because of the meaning and interpretation behind it, but because it was created by a local artist, which I believe is vital when displaying public art.”
When Herron’s Basile Center for Art, Design and Public Life students visited Westfield, Bonar said the city’s history was a focal point for artists.
“It was really important for the city that its history be acknowledged. I wanted to create something that bridged their rich past to the future they are creating,” she said. “Presenting proposals for commission is always really exciting for me. I definitely enjoy putting forth a concept and being able to explain my thought process and inspiration as it relates to a space or idea that the client is very involved in.”
Passaggio opens the way into the Asa Bales and allows for reflection on what has grown and what can develop in the future. The name Passaggio references a passageway or turning point in a journey, which brings together the emphasis of the past, present, and future that is explored in this piece.
Meet Katey Bonar
- Hometown: Churubusco, Indiana
- Residence: Bloomington, Indiana
- Education: Churubusco High School, Herron School of Art and Design
- Favorite artist: I don’t have a favorite artist but I really enjoy sculpture and things that make you reevaluate your own personal space.
- Favorite medium: Polyurethane foam. There’s no limitation to make whatever shape or size.
- When she knew she’d be an artist: It was always the thing I did in my free time. I always lived for art classes.
- What’s next: I’m looking at master programs or a residency.
- Personal quote: Acknowledge the past, present and future as part of the same thing. Not being focused on just one but being able to look at all three. I think it’s something anyone can relate to.
Bonar said all of the visual cues in Passaggio relate to natural visual patterns that reflect time passing: the many concentric ring patterns as growth rings in trees, and the columns’ ridges and grooves as eroded landmasses or different stratified geologic forms. The pavilion rings overhead are a way to examine the potential, to look up to the sky as an intangible place and as a possibility for the mapping of what is yet to come.
“It’s the future. You can’t reach or touch them,” explained Bonar. “It’s something connected to the path, the journey.”
In the two thermoplastic ring groupings on the trail, viewers have the opportunity to trace their history as in a record, and the things that have happened that can be tangibly mapped out through time in a visual representation that can be experienced physically through circumambulation.
“An art piece such as this in Westfield gives an opportunity for residents to reflect on the past, as well as to examine where they are now, and where they want to be in the future – both collectively and personally,” said Bonar. “Passaggio can serve the city as a new place of cultural growth and reflection, as a means of cultivating conversation, and as a record of the rich history and developing future of Westfield.”