New sculpture installed at Northwest College

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The wait is over: A new sculpture has been installed next to the Yellowstone Building at Northwest College.

Denver artist Jodie Cooper’s two-part steel sculpture, “Infinite Pattern S’s,” was placed on its base Thursday in the grassy area adjacent to the Yellowstone Building — the climax of four years of planning and work.

Lisa Watson, Northwest College’s vice president for administrative services and finance, was excited to see the sculpture in place.

“This process has definitely been the culmination of a long process,” Watson said. “When the Yellowstone Building was in the construction phase [in 2014], there was a committee formed to assist with the selection of the artwork. A piece was selected at that time, but unfortunately there were several challenges with the placement of the piece and the costs associated with its installation, which ultimately resulted in the cancellation of [that] piece by the state.”

After that piece was canceled, a second committee was formed and Cooper was selected in December 2017 to create the current sculpture. He began to work on it this spring.

“We were sent a few pictures from time to time as the construction was in process,” Watson said. “Seeing it set into place [Thursday] was both exciting and a relief knowing that we have found a great piece of artwork for our campus.”

Cooper has been an artist for 17 years and a certified welder for the past 10. He has been doing larger scale sculptures for the past five years and typically works in metals.

Cooper studied at Skidmore College in upstate New York, graduate school at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan as well as Apex Technical School in New York City for training in welding.

Cooper was pleased to see his sculpture go from a model to a full-size sculpture

“It’s exciting,” he said Thursday. “It’s always really satisfying to see a project come to full fruition.”

The sculpture was CNC plasma cut and then machine rolled into two individual panels.

“It’s a pattern I’ve used a lot in my work,” Cooper said. “The organic pattern can continue infinitely without repeating. It’s been a recurring theme in my work in a lot of different ways. It offers different levels of interaction with people creating an occupiable space. At different times of day and times of the year it casts unique shadows, changing with the seasons.”

Cooper enjoys sitting back and watching people explore and interact with his sculptures.

“There are always people that aren’t so fond of it,” Cooper said. “With abstract art, it’s really fun to see how kids interact and how they perceive it. I really like my work to go out into the world and live its own life. I don’t feel super protective of it; I love when people have their own experience with my art without being told how to interpret it.”

NWC President Stefani Hicswa was also excited about the new piece of artwork.

“The sculpture features prominently in our overall landscaping plan; I am excited that this piece is the first,” Hicswa said. “It is a nice addition to campus.”

The Northwest College Foundation helped fund the sculpture — along with the Heart Mountain mosaic tile mural inside the Yellowstone Building — with some help from Art in Public Buildings and some endowment funds donated by Dr. Dennis Brophy, a now-retired NWC psychology professor.

“While it’s taken a long time to get to this point, I believe it’s exciting to now have added two beautiful artist works to our campus,” said Shelby Wetzel, Executive Director of the NWC Foundation. “It’s also nice that Mr. Cooper’s piece is an outdoor sculpture and can be easily seen/shared with Powell residents or visitors.”

There is still some landscaping and other details to take care of on Cooper’s sculpture. When the installation is finished, there will be ground lighting that will cast shadows on the Yellowstone Building’s exterior. However, Thursday represented a major milestone on the sculpture installation.

“Having the sculpture in place completes the Yellowstone Building project, which was started before I came to Northwest College five years ago,” Hicswa said.

Watson said the piece adds to the beauty of the Northwest College campus.

“Every year, the Board of Trustees invests in student artwork for our permanent collection and we have ever-changing works on display on our campus,” Watson said. “Being able to add a permanent piece like this to our collection only adds to the experience and creates an opportunity for discussion, interaction, and cultivation for our community both on and off campus.”

For more information on Cooper and his art, visit his website at http://jodierothcooper.com.

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