On March 1st, at their Canvas & Cocktails event, Platform ART revealed the winning model for their newest project. The submitted pieces were judged at their Platform Kids event in February. The theme for this year’s public art project was centered around recognizing linemen as first responders. The creators of the winning work are high school students, Angel, Gabby, and Maddie. They created a model that depicts a globe with people in hanging bulbs, and a lineman as the central figure in the piece.
Platform has been beautifying the community and giving artists a platform of their own for many years through similar public art projects. One of their biggest was a program they did three years in a row for Veterans Memorial Park.
“We proposed to the Veterans Association group, that Platform initiate a public art program to recognize and honor veterans, firefighter, and police,” explained Executive Director of Platform ART, Cynthia Haffey.
With this idea in mind, they came up with a theme for each year regarding Veterans Memorial Park, the first of which was ‘Honor.’
The concept was to have high school students design a model, proposing a sculpture that fits the theme. They put together a committee of judges that would select the work that, “they felt best represented their industries collectively.”
In the first year, they had around 60 entries and selected a winning model. From there, they commissioned a local artist, Tom Monaco to work with the students to modify their design. Monaco and the students consulted on the piece so that he could later fabricate it into a permanent sculpture for the park.
The 2018 project theme came about after Hurricane Irma and was to recognize and show appreciation to Lakeland Electric’s hard-working linemen. Platform ART was introduced to a woman by the name of Tracy Moore, the wife of late lineman, Marc Moore who was killed in the line of duty in 2002.
After her husband’s death, “Tracy was inspired after that to talk about safety for linemen,” said Haffey. She now travels giving talks on the subject and created The Highline Hero Foundation to create public awareness and appreciation.
Cynthia noted that Tracy wanted to do something recognizing the profession. “We proposed the same model to look at linemen as first responders, which they are,” said Haffey using the recent hurricane as an example, “Even the police and the emergency vehicles can’t go in, until the linemen come in first and remove or repair the electricity so that people aren’t hurt.”
“Tracy liked the idea and she liked our process,” said Haffey. Platform then wrote a grant to the State of Florida and was allotted money for the project. Platform ART also received a call from the National Endowment for the Arts about a federal grant. “They were looking for small organizations in our region who were doing impactful work. They researched us and found out about the Veteran projects and invited us to apply for the Linemen [project].” With funding from two grants, Platform approached local schools to find young artists to participate.
The artist that will be assisting the winning students in creating the sculpture is Becky Ault. Her work can be seen throughout Lakeland from the bronze poured sculpture in front of the police station to the bronze sculpture at Joker Marchant Stadium depicting Joker Marchant and George Jenkins.
Ault traveled to 6 schools within the Lakeland Electric service area, giving a total of 8 workshops. “At her workshops, she was speaking to the teachers and the students about how to think about the content of the sculpture and the materials, and the message you’re trying to convey to the public,” said the Executive Director.
The modification and fabrication process has now begun with Cynthia and the students conference calling Becky Ault at her studio in Pennsylvania. The whole sculpture will be about 8 feet in diameter with the globe made of highly polished stainless steel. The bulbs will be suspended from solid cable and will be a highly polished flat stainless steel. The figures that are inside of the bulb in the model, will instead be standing off of them in a dark patina. The cables running through the sculpture will be stainless steel and will have facets that reflect light.
The structure honoring linemen will be installed behind Lakeland Electric between the building and Lake Mirror. The installation and ribbon cutting is expected to take place in May or June of this year.
Highline Hero Foundation