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Interactive public art coming to civic campus

Interactive public art coming to civic campus
Posted on 03/30/2018

A thousand miles west of Lenexa, artist Joe O’Connell is creating an interactive outdoor sculpture for the new Lenexa civic campus. At first glance, it might look like the sculpture’s two spheres have rolled out of the Lenexa Rec Center and come to a stop on the Commons. But with a closer look, you will see that the spheres are an artistic interpretation of the original vision of Lenexa’s new downtown – a place where people come together and create community.

Known as “Body Politic,” the commissioned artwork is being fabricated in Tucson, Arizona by O’Connell and his team at Creative Machines. When installed later this year, O’Connell believes the artwork “will become a destination, a meeting place and a landmark.”

The spheres are five and seven feet in diameter and made from hand-hammered stainless steel. More than 200 unique silhouettes, each conveying an emotion or attitude toward life, are cut into the steel.

“Public spaces are all about looking at the silhouettes of others and judging their feelings, receptivity to contact, their past, and what they are thinking,” explains O’Connell. “We do this all the time when we approach a crowd – reading which foot each person has their weight on, what angle they are holding their heads, whether their backs are straight or slumped.”

Light fixtures inside the spheres will project outlines through the stainless shell. Visitors will be able to change the light’s color by touching points on the spheres – allowing them to curate the space around the art.

The arrangement of the two spheres will encourage people to lean on them and interact with the artwork and each other.

Later this year, “Body Politic” will be installed on the western edge of the civic campus between the Rec Center and the parking garage. The piece is part of a master plan for arts on the new campus.

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