FARMINGTON – A new work of art has begun to sprout near the entrance to University of Maine at Farmington’s Education Center. Sculptor Christopher Fennell, nationally recognized for his colossal creations constructed from reclaimed and sustainable materials, will soon be completing his first Maine sculpture on the UMF campus.
Designed in keeping with UMF’s vision for the environmentally sustainable, LEED silver certified Education Center, Fennell’s proposed work, entitled “Lawnmower Leaves,” will depict three leaf-like blades in a graceful arch. The structure will stand approximately 24 feet tall and will be constructed from steel and approximately 1,000 recycled lawn mower blades the artist has obtained from a national lawn and garden tractor company.
According to Fennell, he wanted to take an unsustainable and graceless activity – mowing grass – and make a statement of how the repurposed blades could be used in an environmentally friendly way to create a thing of beauty.
“Sculpture is a visual language,” said Fennell. “Using recycled materials is not only a powerful image about our choices, but also connects the audience to the artwork through their own personal experiences with those materials.”
Fennell’s naturalistic sculpture will be created on the UMF site facing High Street beginning the first full week in September and is expected to be completed in 30 to 60 days. He encourages members of the campus and general public to visit him during construction.
“I’m very approachable,” Fennell said, “and enjoy responding to questions and sharing the experience of creating art with the public.”
The sculpture was commissioned in accordance with Maine’s Percent for Art Act, enacted in 1979 to provide funds for the acquisition of public artworks for newly constructed or renovated state-funded buildings.
“Chris’ sculpture will be the finishing touch to the greenest building on campus,” said Theodora J. Kalikow, UMF president. “We’re thrilled to have such a highly acclaimed contemporary artist adding to the landscape of the 21st century arts at UMF.”
Inspired by the materials that have been cast out by society, Fennell has been creating colossal architectural skeletons from discarded materials since 2000. His first sculpture – the barn ‘wave’ – was built at the University of Georgia from the boards of an old dismantled barn. Since then, he has been creating his one-of-a-kind sculptures in the shapes of waves, vessels, doorways and flora and fauna. His dynamic pieces can be found at private and public galleries and on university campuses nationwide. He holds an engineering degree from the University of Southern Florida and an MFA in Sculpture from the University of Georgia.
To see more of Fennell’s work, go to http://www.cfennell.org/