Forever green: A sculpture is unveiled

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The sculpture, Lawnmower Leaves, built in front of UMF’s Education Center, was unveiled and celebrated Wednesday.

FARMINGTON – The blades of grass will forever be green in front of the University of Maine at Farmington’s Education Center.

Green, like that first, vibrant green of spring and green, as in a recycled and renewable green.

The 24-foot sculpture, unveiled and celebrated today, depicts three blades of grass and was created with 600 used lawn mower blades. Like ants under giant grass blades, a small crowd gathered to applaud the work by sculptor Christopher Fennell.

Titled Lawnmower Leaves, the sculpture, said Theo Kalikow, UMF’s president, fits in well here as a sort of punctuation mark out front of the greenest, most environmentally-friendly building on campus with its geothermal heating system and varied use of recycled materials throughout.

For his part, Fennell could often be seen during the past two months at all hours climbing the scaffolding he built using 250 two-by-fours around his sprouting sculpture and working to weld hundreds of lawn mower blades in all kinds of weather.

“There was a lot of rain and cold,” said the man from Georgia. So much so, he needed to build a roof and sides over the work “to help keep me going,” he said.

As his work continued at a busy campus hub on High and Lincoln streets, people would stop by and offer comments and conversations.

“My favorite was ‘will you be graded on it?'” he said laughing. Others, interested others, would drop off their used lawn mower’s blade to be included in the work. Some 60 local blades were added to the work, bringing more movement and life to his grass blades.

And there were those thoughtful others who brought soup and fingerless gloves to keep the sculptor working even in the cold.

“I’ve been working here for two months,” Fennell said looking up at his tall green metal grass blades formed of lawn mower blades, “and I’ve found this to be a great community.”

The sculpture, given the green light by the Maine Arts Commission, was commissioned and funded under the state’s Percent for Art Act. The law provides funding for 1 percent of the total construction costs for new or renovated state-funded buildings. In this case, the new Education Center and the renovation of Preble Hall were combined as projects toward the $41,500 total for the piece.

Theo Kalikow, UMF’s president, congratulates sculptor Chris Fennell on his work.

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