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public art incubator
a program that seeks to enable regional artists to produce commissioned public art department of art
university of northern iowa
The following news article by Cheryl Smith was first published in the Humanities and Arts Edition of  Communiqué: College of Humanities, Arts & Sciences Alumni Magazine, University of Northern Iowa. Vol 1 (Winter 2012). Reprinted by permission.http://www.uni.edu/chas/http://www.uni.edu/shapeimage_6_link_0shapeimage_6_link_1
STORED IN THE Department of Art's sculpture lab are the components of a
public work of art slated to grace UNI's new residence hall, Panther Village.
Titled Bower, by Lynn Basa, the work will consist of nine square columns, five
outside the hall and four in the glass-enclosed lounge, topped by glass houses
that are lit by LED lights. Like the department's proposal for a public art
incubator, not all of the pieces have come together yet, but it's just a matter
of time.

"I see this public art incubator program as providing regional artists with fabrication assistance, space and resources within the Art Department as
they produce their commissioned public art projects,” said Tom Stancliffe,
professor of art. "Participating artists would work directly with faculty,
technical staff and students to fabricate their artwork using our well-equipped
facilities and expertise."

Stancliffe has been thinking for a long time of the idea of a public art incubator at UNI, and he reasoned that UNI’s Art Department could offer all the required services. Many public art projects, a large percentage of which are sculpture, require large-scale space and facilities for fabrication. An artist might use
custom fabricators (metal, foundry, stone, glass, mosaic, etc.) for a large-
scale work, but this route can lead to problems. The artist's design must be translatable to conventional techniques so that the fabricator can estimate and
produce the work based on typical integration of processes and materials.
Stancliffe could also provide the benefit of his own experience in sculpting public artwork. For example, how does one go about transporting a large-scale artwork to its final destination? Over the years Stancliffe has learned how to design and produce pieces so that they can be broken down. "It helps to be able to anticipate potential problems," he said.

These were some of the reasons to begin a public art incubator project, and
during the summer of 2011 all the pieces seemed to fall into place: Basa had been commissioned to do the Panther Village public art and needed the large-scale resources that the Art Department could offer, and Stancliffe had a break in his own work. The stars were aligning.

During the summer Stancliffe and a group of his students—Sarah Deppe, Vicki Reed, Zach Viggers and Zach Bowman—with the assistance of sculpture lab shop technician Dan Perry, fabricated the metal parts of the artwork: the nine columns of varying size and length and the branch-like holders / platforms for the glass houses. The houses themselves will be fabricated by an Arizona glassblower, and the lighting will be done by a Chicago contractor. All of the components of the work will come together in the spring of 2012, with the completion of Panther Village.

Stancliffe sees the incubator as not only benefiting the external arts community but even more important, engaging UNI students directly as collaborators with professional artists through the production of public art. "It's not a bad message to convey to students that they can make a living doing art," he said.

No other US university, as far as Stancliffe is aware, has such a program. He plans to promote the public art incubator statewide through the Iowa Arts Council. The program also has a Facebook page, and students are now developing a website. "I see this as a win-win situation for everyone involved—
artists, students and the university," said Stancliffe. "We all stand to gain." 

•   •   • Above Photos of various stages in the fabrication and delivery of Bower, a public sculpture by Lynn Basa, designed for installation at the Panther Village student residence complex (2012) on the UNI campus. 

Right Artist Vicki Reed in the process of installing a public sculpture for the City of Decorah IA. Above Sarah Deppe, Exhaling Dissolution (2010). 

Right Artist Stephanie Sailer with a public sculpture she designed for the City Park at Charles City IA.
Above Installation of a work by Jim Benedict. 

Right Sarah Deppe, Strife (2011).

Related links
• Public Art Incubator on Facebook
• Public sculpture on the UNI campus
• Website UNI Department of Art
• Website Tom Stancliffe Public Art
Left Artist Sarah Deppe completing a commissioned sculpture. Above 
Public sculpture 
by Bounnak Thammavong