Mayor John Dickert, surrounded by 4th graders whose poems inspired the artists
The river rushes
In nature it freely flows
--Achintya Krishnan, 4th grade
Racine got a new piece of public art today, one with roots firmly planted in the city's past, present and future.
The sculpture, called Dawning, shows a phoenix rising. It was dedicated this morning alongside the Root River, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
The city's past is represented by the sculpture's location, in the Sixth Street Bike Path Overlook, a gift to the city from the Downtown Rotary Club, which had it built in 2005 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Rotary International, whose founder -- Paul P. Harris -- was born in Racine.
The city's present is represented by the sculpture's creators, students from an eight-week welding bootcamp presented by the Workforce Development Center. Its concrete base was constructed by more students, from the the First Choice Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program.
Fourth grader Achintya Krishnan reads the haiku he wrote
And the city's future is represented by the fourth graders of Jefferson Lighthouse School, who wrote the poems that inspired the artists to create the sculpture in this form. The specific poem considered most inspiring was written by 9-year-old Achintya Krishnan, whose proud mother Anandhi was at the dedication this morning. Achintya was called upon to read his haiku to the crowd attending the sculpture's dedication, by Mark Mundl, of the Workforce Development Center. He also had his picture taken with Mayor Dickert. But his longest-lasting honor was having his poem engraved on the sculpture's base, where it will be displayed ... forever?
Dawning was designed by two artists, Nathaniel Hunter, above, and Bruce Niemi. The project got its start about 18 months ago, when Ben Lehner wrote a grant application for a piece of public art. Money came from the Wisconsin Arts Board, but this collaborative project also involved UW-Parkside, Gateway Technical College, the Racine County Workforce Development Center, and Racine Unified School District.
The sculpture is across Sixth Street from the REC -- the Root river Environmental Education Community Center -- where every fourth grader in Racine Unified receives environmental education each year.