WEST LAFAYETTE — The City of West Lafayette and the West Lafayette Public Arts Team has dedicated four new insect sculptures installed at the entrances to Happy Hollow Park. The sculptures are located at the three pedestrian entrances to the park and the main entrance, where a towering praying mantis sculpture entitled “Harmony Afield,” flanked by three illuminated Say’s Fireflies, welcomes visitors. Mayor John Dennis, artist Bill Secunda, and others spoke as a part of the ceremony.
“I’ve always appreciated Happy Hollow Park since I grew up playing here,” Mayor Dennis said about the Mantis, Dragon Fly, Cricket, and Luna Moth. “But now recognize it as the world-class amenity that it is. Adding these cool native insects to the entrances creates a draw that is only enhanced once you enter Happy Hollow.”
The installation of the art follows three years of work in the park that saw:
· The installation of the new elevated boardwalk from the Grant Street pedestrian-entrance (where the Dragon Fly is now located)
· The relocation of the stream that takes the runoff from the geographically unique park in Indiana’s normally flat landscape
· A redesigned vehicular and pedestrian entrance that ties the park in with the recent shared use trail added to Happy Hollow Road
· A new playground installed earlier this year
Pennsylvania-based artist Bill Secunda was selected by the Public Arts Team after $100,000 was allotted in the 2017 Redevelopment Commission spending plan for the project. The four pieces were delivered in late 2018, but were not installed until after this summer’s work on the main entrance was underway.
Secunda looks to add personality, balance, and a sense of movement to every piece he makes so that each one stands out. “Most everything I see, hear, or experience provides inspiration for my work,” he said. Secunda’s work can be seen at sites around the US, such as the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Disney’s Epcot Center, and the St. Louis Zoo, among others.
Those in attendance were invited to participate in an “insect walk” informational tour led by graduate student Emily Justus from Purdue Entomology as well as a talk by Dr. Tom Turpin, famed creator of Purdue’s “Bug Bowl” contest.
The dedication commemorates a two-year effort by the City of West Lafayette’s Redevelopment Commission and the Parks and Recreation Department, led by the West Lafayette Public Arts Team, to add public art to the park’s entrances. The installation of the four insect sculptures at Happy Hollow Park entrances reflect the role of public parks in connecting the city residents to nature. The City previously worked to install Heron and Rooster by Indianapolis artist Jeff Larimore at the entrances of the Celery Bog and Cumberland Park.
“Art makes the City more livable, and attracts job seekers and employers to West Lafayette,” said Redevelopment Commission Chairman Larry Oates. “Art helps power economic development, which is the charge of the Redevelopment Commission.”
The project was selected and overseen by the West Lafayette Public Arts Team, a volunteer group comprised of those interested in adding vitality to the community through art. “Today’s dedication is a great example of how those interested in bettering our community can work together to infuse vibrancy in unexpected ways. Rather than just welcoming people to our parks with a sign, the Public Arts Team has been brought in to help greet our fellow citizens with whimsy and creativity,” said Lauren Bruce, Chair of the Public Arts Team.