COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Beginning in June, the longest public artwork in Columbus’ history — a 229-foot sculpture complete with 78 miles of twine — will tower above pedestrians Downtown.
The Columbus Museum of Art on Tuesday announced that the blue and red soft fiber sculpture, designed by internationally renowned sculptor Janet Echelman, will be suspended above the intersection of High and Gay streets on June 1. Anchored to buildings, the floating display will stretch 126 feet in the air at its highest point.
The artwork’s title, “Current,” alludes to Columbus’ role as a trailblazer in cultivating energy — whether it be from the water current of the Scioto River or the electric current of the city’s lighted archways.
“Visible from an airplane, Current will be a beacon and a beckon, drawing people from across the city and region,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a statement. “It’s going to be a defining image for our downtown and put Columbus on the map as a community that cares about — and invests in — transformational public art.”
Echelman, who has created more than 50 similar installations across five continents, said she looked to the city’s electric evolution for the Current’s design. One of the first adopters of street arches illuminated by gas lighting, Columbus has long seen a core industry in electricity.
The glow-in-the-dark sculpture’s colors gradually transition from red to blue, symbolizing the red bricks of Columbus’ historic buildings and the blue water of its Scioto River, the Museum said. Like Echelman’s other designs, Current will ebb and flow with the wind.
“I hope that Current captures that idea of interconnectedness and creates a space where people feel a sense of community and sanctuary,” Echelman said in a statement. “And I love that this artwork literally laces into the fabric of the city over the public street, because it’s a place that everyone feels entitled to be present.”
The Columbus Museum of Art said Current is part of a larger effort to integrate art into the downtown corridor, and Ginther said he hopes the floating display will signal to visitors the “nexus of culture” that is the intersection of Gay and High streets.
To avoid ice accumulation and other adverse weather conditions, the Museum said Current will have a brief “hibernation” period each winter. A celebration will be held each spring when it is reinstalled.
“As an artist, I follow nature,” Echelman said. “And I hope the winter functions like the absence of a lover, giving us a chance to experience it anew each spring.”
Current’s design and installation was funded by Jeff Edwards, CEO of Edwards Companies, who later donated the display to the Columbus Museum of Art. Edwards’ donation marks the largest private contribution to public art in Columbus’ history, the museum said.
The Museum will oversee the care and maintenance of Current as part of its permanent collection.
“Current will be an iconic part of the Columbus skyline,” said Pete Scantland, board president of the Columbus Museum of Art. “Our Museum is grateful for Jeff’s generous support and for his unwavering vision and determination to further affirm our city as a destination for world-class art.”