Five new student-crafted sculptures were installed at the University of North Florida’s Seaside Sculpture Park in Jacksonville Beach Friday.
It’s the fifth installation since the park opened in 2016. Throughout the day on Friday, the five previous pieces of art in the park were taken down to make room for them.
Patricia Muniz is one of the students selected this time. She created the “Vitruvian Woman,” which is a take on the “Vitruvian Man”, a famous Leonardo da Vinci sketch that shows a male figure in two positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inside a circle and square.
Muniz says she was inspired to create the art while taking a Renaissance class.
“The whole point of the ‘Vitruvian Man’ is how man and nature are perfectly balanced and how the measurements line up perfectly with nature. I thought, wow, there’s not a lot of depictions of women in the Renaissance and there’s not something like this for women even though we could say the same thing for women and for men,” Muniz says.
She says she was nervous at the beginning of the selection process but became ecstatic as it played out.
The four other new sculptures have themes ranging from the military to flamingos and fishing.
“Propulsion” by Dustin Sims is described as a kinetic piece that explores the relationship between a squid’s movement in the water with modern-day underwater machines. “Catfish Windmill” by Victoria Ponteri was inspired by the fishing culture in Florida and how important catfish are to local and global food chains.
“Military and Memoriam” by Ethan Harmon pays homage to the sacrifices of people who have served in the U.S. Military since World War II. Each dog tag on the sculpture shows the total number of active-duty and combat-related deaths in each branch of the military. “Flamingosis” by Shisam Barrios is inspired by the history of flamingos in the state.
The students have been working on the sculptures over the past year. First they created models to present to a selection committee, and once selected, the students are awarded scholarships to create and install their sculptures. Jenny Hager, the chair of the Department of Art, Art History, and Design at UNF, says typically once students get selected, they are excited but become nervous because they need to create something that is safe to have in public.
“This project brings me a lot of joy. It’s super exciting to see students do something that they don’t feel confident doing going in and then get to see the finished result go into the park and their piece is realized in a public place that people get to see every day, and I think that means a lot,” Hager says.
The public will have a chance to check out the sculptures at Seaside Sculpture Park throughout the next year. In the coming weeks, plaques will be installed next to the sculptures that include a QR code that will take people to a video interview with the student artists.
Once the year on display is up, the sculptures will be taken down and auctioned off, making room for the next round of student art.