Snite Museum of Art reopens sculpture park
Kelli Smith | Friday, August 25, 2017
After five years of construction, the Snite Museum of Art will be reopening a public sculpture park on the south side of campus Friday.
Themed “Reclaiming our Nature,” the Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park features a myriad of acclaimed sculptures situated in an outdoor exhibition stretching across Edison Road.
Director of the Snite Museum and curator of the sculpture park Charles Loving said the sculptures were selected to reflect the park’s theme by favoring both the natural environment and human spiritual nature.
“Because the site was historically a landfill, I asked landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh to image what it might have looked like before Notre Dame was founded,” Loving said.
The park includes sculptures created by artists across the globe and by Notre Dame alumni, faculty and individuals in the South Bend community. Snite Museum’s director of marketing and communications Gina Costa said the park is an effort to “return to our nature.”
“We’re rescuing [the area] from being a landfill to a beautiful, indigenous place with water elements, prairie grasses, sloping hills, and we put in 12 sculptures [created] by some of the top national and international sculptors,” Costa said.
Additions to the park include new walkways, water elements and artwork such as a site-specific sculpture by Philip Rickey titled “Life of Christ/Cycle of Life,” which Loving said will create “a new sacred spot on campus.”
With the sculpture park’s proximity to the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and the future Walsh Family Hall of Architecture, Loving said the park is the next step toward creating a “fine arts district.” Future plans include an art museum within the park and a Department of Art, Art History and Design in the area, he said.
“The arts district also creates a literal bridge to the local community through its adjacency to Eddy Street Commons and by virtue of community outreach programs offered by the Snite Museum of Art and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center,” Loving said.
According to the Snite Museum’s website, the eight-acre site will soon feature an amphitheater to be used for concerts, poetry readings and tour groups. The outdoor exhibit will remain open permanently and can be freely explored at any time or day.
“The function of the park is for the University campus and local community to come picnic and chill out,” Costa said. “It’s just a beautiful, reflective, contemplative environment.”
To celebrate the project’s completion, an opening reception will be held at the park Friday afternoon. The reception will feature speeches by community members, the opportunity to plant in the park’s soil and free food and souvenirs for the first handful of attendees.
“This is a great opportunity to leave something of yourself at Notre Dame,” Costa said. “There’s going to be all sorts of things to eat, plantings, some vendors [and] just sort of a nice, chill atmosphere.”