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Linn County Front Page News

Posted on: August 25, 2022

Public Art Installation at Linn County’s Harris Building

Art sculptures being lowered onto concrete pad

Installation of an interactive outdoor public art display is underway at Linn County’s Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building, located at 1020 6th St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Artist Madeline Wiener is onsite installing the art today, August 26, 2022. 

The installation includes use of an overhead crane to lower two stone sculptures onto a concrete pad. The outdoor artwork is two stone sculptures shaped as abstract people who are actually benches. These sculptures are the newest ‘members’ of what Wiener refers to as her “Bench People” series and, once in place, are meant to be interactive with the community, inviting people to sit on them and become part of the sculpture itself. Wiener creates her Bench People as one-of-a-kind, site-specific sculptures. 

Stop by the next time you are in the neighborhood!

View photos from the installation.

About the Interactive Public Art

The Linn County Public Art Commission selected Artist Madeline Wiener’s public art proposal following an international call for public art for the Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris building. The outdoor artwork selected is two stone sculptures shaped as abstract people who are actually benches. These sculptures are the newest ‘members’ of what Wiener refer to as her “Bench People” series.

The larger of the two stone sculptures (5’ x 6’ x 4’) is a woman who is reaching to a child, suggesting that they are holding hands. Their eyes are connecting as they would in a good conversation, lesson, or game. The artist noted that with the difficulties of the pandemic that made hugging impossible, she wanted to show the togetherness of people. The generous ‘laps’ of these figures will offer a place for at least one or two people to join in their ‘conversation’ or wherever the viewers’ minds might take them. The smaller figure (4’ x 5’ x 2’6”) depicts a child lying on her stomach with knees bent so her feet become a seat. She is perhaps listening to the conversation or participating from a distance. Her gesture is warm and engaging.

These sculptures are meant to be interactive with the community, inviting people to sit on them and become part of the sculpture itself. Wiener shared that people of all ages find creative ways to interact with these figures and always enjoy the smooth surfaces as well as the variety of textures that they can explore. 

Linn County joins communities across the United States and internationally that have selected Wiener’s Bench People for their public art installations, including, San Diego, CA; Santa Cruz, CA; Denver, CO; Loveland, CO; Jacksonville, FL; Glenview, IL; Terre Haute, IN; Santa Fe, NM; Anderson, SC; Norfolk, VA; Roanoke, VA. 

Wiener creates her Bench People as one-of-a-kind, site-specific sculptures. 

Wiener said she uses dolomitic limestone for the sculptures because it is durable in all kinds of weather and tough enough to withstand the innocent abuse given by those who choose to climb on them. The stone requires little to no maintenance and holds up well with seasonal temperature extremes, remaining comfortable to sit on throughout the year. 

“Upon arriving at the Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building, visitors and staff will be greeted by two large stone sculptures intended to give them a sense of welcome, warmth, comfort, familiarity, playfulness, caring, and curiosity that one might feel when being greeted by a friend,” Artist Madeline Wiener stated. “These figures are created to be visually pleasing and functional, interactive sculptures. They are intended for adults and children of all ages and sizes to climb on and become a part of the actual sculptures.”

About the Linn County Public Art Commission

The Linn County Public Art Commission was established in 2010 by an ordinance adopted by the Linn County Board of Supervisors to direct funding for the inclusion of works of art in Linn County’s capital improvement projects. The Commission, overseen by the Linn County Board of Supervisors, is responsible for the planning, commissioning, and acquisition of all artwork in Linn County capital improvement projects. The mission of the Linn County Public Art program is to enrich the lives of residents and visitors by integrating public art into County planning, services, design, and infrastructure. 

About the Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building

The Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris Building opened in 2019 and is home to Linn County Public Health and Linn County Child and Youth Development Services. The building is located at 1020 6th St. SE, Cedar Rapids near the NewBo and Oakhill Jackson neighborhoods.

The Linn County Board of Supervisors voted in 2017 to honor Dr. Percy and Lileah Harris posthumously by naming the Linn County Public Health and Child and Youth Development Services building after them in recognition of their lifetime of dedication and service to health and education in Linn County. Dr. Harris was the first African American physician in Cedar Rapids where he built his medical practice. Dr. Harris also served as Linn County Medical Examiner for nearly 40 years. Lileah was a pianist, active church member, and an advocate for lifelong learning and education. Some of Lileah’s community roles included serving on the board of the NAACP, membership on the Cedar Rapids Human Rights Commission, and serving on the Board of Directors of the Cedar Rapids Symphony Guild.

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