|Eric Wright, completed sculpture, photo by Gary Thomas|
Wright kept meticulous documentation of each stage of his project since it began in 2009. I asked him to reflect on the conceptual, logistical and technical development he experienced.
|Eric Wright, Concept Sketch for OK Turnpike Authority project, 2009|
Guest author: Eric Wright
For my first ever public artwork, I decided to limit myself to the Jersey barrier. The what? If you drive a car, you’ve seen it practically everywhere you go. It’s that ugly concrete barrier lining construction zones and dividing highways across the country. If you didn’t know it’s called the Jersey barrier, I didn’t either when the project began.
Why the Jersey barrier? The agency receiving the artwork is the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, along with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol. The site is on the H.E. Bailey Turnpike – near
- and the overall concept for the artwork is one of safety, as the turnpike tends to be a dangerous work environment. The Jersey barrier lines the middle of the turnpike, and is one element that does its job very well at keeping people safe. Whenever you see tire marks and scars on a dividing barrier, it has more than likely prevented a cross over collision. Because the barrier is so ubiquitous and utilitarian, it is easily overlooked. That is why I decided to restrict myself to only use it in the work. Chickasha
|Eric Wright, Jersey Barrier slices laid on dry ground|
I quickly saw that the profile of the barrier might lend itself to a nice design if it was repeated in a circle. After making a small clay model and moving on to Photoshop to refine the design, I discovered it created a beautiful star. A circular base created from the slices would make a nice foundation for a used section of this unattractive piece of concrete. The concept is to present the barrier in a way for the viewer to reflect on the importance and beauty that can be found in this mundane, everyday piece of concrete.
All I had to do now was get a Jersey barrier and slice it like a loaf of bread.
See a full slide show of Wright's process here:
Learn more about the Oklahoma Public Art Mentorship, other artists' projects and Wright through this Art Focus Oklahoma article or on this page.