A golden opportunity for Public Art Incubator

The University of Northern Iowa will play a special role in the opening ceremonies of the National Special Olympics games. The Flame of Hope torch, which will light the game's cauldron, was crafted in UNI's Public Art Incubator. The torch will burn brightly during the game's eight-day run that begins Saturday, June 14.

Nearly 3,500 athletes will complete in the game's 16 team and individual sports. Around 70,000 fans, family members and friends, along with 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 coaches, are also expected to attend.

The Special Olympics national games have only been held three times: in Ames in 2006 and in Lincoln, Neb., in 2010. Each time the torch was fabricated in the Public Art Incubator.Nearly 3,500 athletes will complete in the game's 16 team and individual sports. Around 70,000 fans, family members and friends, along with 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 coaches, are also expected to attend.

"I went to the opening ceremonies with the 2010 cauldron," said Dan Perry, incubator shop technician. "There were 16,000 people there, from Hollywood actors to famous athletes to government officials. They make a big deal about it, so it's really exciting."

Perry, art professor Tom Stancliffe and two UNI students worked on the Flame of Hope. This year's design includes six engraved pieces, and each piece will be carried into the opening ceremonies by two athletes and two coaches. The pieces are inscribed with one of the Special Olympics' six pillars, such as Build Communities, Advance Quality Sports and Competitions, and Connect Fans and Funds. The incubator is also creating the speaker podiums for the opening ceremonies.

The torch was dissembled and placed on flatbed semis to make the trek from Cedar Falls to the Prudential Center in New Jersey, which is where the opening ceremonies will be held. Now that the torch is no longer on campus, the incubator will return to providing a large, well-equipped workspace for professional artists to construct public art projects and commissions for public spaces.

"We also use the incubator as a springboard for recent graduates who are trying to get their first commission and have a place to build it," said Stancliffe.

Learn more about the Public Art Incubator at www.uni.edu/artdept/PublicArt.html.

Special Olympics CauldronSpecial Olympics Cauldron
The Flame of Hope torch, which was fabricated in UNI's Public Art Incubator, will shine brightly throughout the National Special Olympics games, Saturday, June 14, through Saturday, June 28, in New Jersey.
Share/Save