When artist and architect Cecil Balmond visited Iowa City earlier this year to discuss the commission of a signature piece of his work, he studied the community and its people, seeking inspiration for art that would provide a distinctive anchor for the Downtown area, and in time, become an iconic symbol of the City itself. At a public presentation at FilmScene held Thursday, Oct. 1, the internationally renowned artist from London, England, unveiled his design before a public gathering of artists, community members, business owners, and public officials anxious to see how Iowa City had inspired him.

Titled, “The Lens,” the concept for the sculpture blends art and science with a 30-foot tall circular stone disc featuring a series of twisting louvers in the center of the disc that function like an eye. The opening and closing of the louvers are intended to create shadows while also capturing and refracting light and color. At night, an arc of colored light will be released from lights embedded in the disc. These light colors can be changed, creating unlimited and ever-changing visual appeal.

Balmond’s design honors the significance of the Black Hawk Mini Park on the Ped Mall, where the piece will eventually be installed. During his time in Iowa City, Balmond learned that for many people, the Ped Mall defines the Iowa City experience. His work will honor the history of this popular gathering spot with the creation of an interactive communal space that encourages continued public engagement through formal and informal gatherings, performances, protests, and conversation.

His art has been exhibited internationally to critical acclaim, and his works are located in countries throughout the world. A fundraising campaign to help support the installation will get underway soon.

Additional images of his design are available on the City's Facebook page: www.facebook.com/CityofIowaCity.

For more information, contact the City’s Public Art Coordinator Marcia Bollinger at 319-356-5237 or Marcia-bollinger@iowa-city.org.

Date of publication

Friday, October 02, 2015