Encapsulating a mix of dance, music and play, the long-awaited dedication ceremony for a public art installation in Hobbs is here.
Colorado artist Gail Folwell will be on hand at 10 a.m. Friday at the CORE to help dedicate her sculpture, “Stay Human.” The piece was set in place last September but the official unveiling was delayed several times due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and weather.
Folwell’s piece was selected as the culmination of an extensive national search, she told the News-Sun. “Stay Human” was actually one of two proposals she presented to a local art committee for the space, she said.
“I brought two ideas to the table I was really fond of for that venue,” Folwell said. “They said, ‘Let’s do this.’”
The committee “liked it because it was physical,” she said. “I think they were intrigued with my work because I do stuff that’s very physical, very active, if you will.”
“Stay Human” features five figures mounted on poles, captured in various dance positions. Folwell took the inspiration for the figures from a concert she attended by Michael Franti and Spearhead several years before, she said.
“The way he moved the crowd, everybody started to pulse at the same rhythm,” Folwell recalled. “The people who were moving in that rhythm — the diversity of that crowd made me run home and do nine quick sculptures of all these people dancing.
“Two of them were actually Michael Franti and people in his band,” she said. “Those are the two main figures,” in the sculpture at the CORE she added.
Folwell said she opted to depict what she called “athletic dancing” rather than more traditional sports to depict the broader, inclusive nature of the CORE.
“I didn’t want to confine it to anything,” she said. “It’s a people facility, a community facility — I was interested in doing something a little more abstract.”
To further that idea, Folwell also incorporated music in the form of empire chimes and cajon drums, a boxlike percussion instrument. And the base of the poles supporting the dancing figures double as merry-go-rounds visitors can climb on and go for a spin.
“These are real chimes you can play, in a scale,” Folwell said. “You can have one to six kids, banging on the chimes. If you had kids out there, whether they’re musical or not, you could mess around on the drums, you could play on the chimes.”
The idea of being able to interact directly with the art rather than just be a passive observer is a direction Fol-well has found herself taking recently. “Stay Human” is probably the most interactive piece she’s done to date, she said. But it fits well with the active nature of the CORE.
“I’m trying to combine the two so public art specifically isn’t just something to look at, to be impressed by, but that actually connects with people,” she said. “Does that look like you? Is that the way you and your friends dance?
“One of the overarching reasons I do art is for me to connect. If we go to a sports event, why do we do that? Because the energy there will make us connect with other people — we need that, and we need that now even more profoundly because we are all so computer oriented.”
Making art helps Folwell find those connections with other people in the world around her, she said. And she hopes her art will help others find those same connections around them.
“That gives us a connection or snaps us into realizing we are all one, we are all connected,” she said. “We all feel the way other people feel, we all get turned on, excited, the way other people do. There are things we all come together for, that make us tribe, that make us human. You’re looking at something and it moves you. Sometimes you don’t even know why. It just does.”