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October 14, 2011

Falls freshening up: Interpretive Center unveils new suspended sculpture

CLARKSVILLE — Tinted glass sculptures hang above the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center’s rotunda. They not only greet visitors walking into the door, but also pull together the state park’s four themes — ancient sea, changing land, converging cultures and the falls of today.

“Those are themes that really find themselves inherent in our story,” said Falls of the Ohio Foundation Director of Advancement Jennifer L. Wilcox.

Officials at the park got a chance to show off the work of art Thursday morning with a ribbon cutting and networking event. The piece is the first wave of a revitalization effort at the center. And Thursday’s event took place right as the fall’s foundation is about halfway through a fundraising effort to pay for even more enhancements.

The sculpture, designed and built by Louisville artist Brook White, features a blazing orange and yellow glass sun, an illuminated glass waterfall as well as a moon suspended above the rotunda floor. Its many pieces reflect aspects of the area’s culture and history.

“It was a little overwhelming,” White said. “This was a great challenge and a really interesting concept.” He said putting together a piece that fit into those four themes “really challenged me to think in different ways.”

White began designing the sculpture at his studio, Flame Run Gallery along East Market Street in Louisville. About mid-summer he moved it to the rotunda and began working there. For about three weeks he and others worked on installing the mobile on the rotunda ceiling. Some of the glass pieces were being made even as it was being hung.

“It was a work in progress until the very end,” he said, noting the challenges of getting the various pieces of it to balance as it was being hung.

“I’m very proud of this place and what we were able to add to it,” White said.

The falls, from the very beginning, has been a leader in public art, said Julie Schweitzer, executive director of the Arts Council of Southern Indiana. Even the building’s design is inspired by the location rather than a standard glass and metal box.

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