Carving Out Community: The Sculpture Project
We are known for our sculptures around here. If you travel through the area, you will probably stop at Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. Stroll through downtown and you will see life size bronzes of each president. Keep wandering towards Main Street Square and you will see new sculptures that break away from our traditional sculptures. The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water is definitely one of our best kept “secrets” although it’s hard to miss the beautiful carvings in the square.
I think the best thing about The Sculpture Project is that anyone can connect to it, from international visitor to local, because of the universal themes of change, community, and nature. The reason I love The Hills, is because of all of the beautiful landscapes and outdoor activities, so the natural imagery and shapes of the sculptures are easier for me to connect to. I am a huge fan of public art and green spaces, so incorporating both into a space that my community uses all of the time is extremely cool to see.
The Sculpture Project: Passage of Wind and Water is a collection of large granite boulders carefully arranged around Main Street Square. The relief carvings on each boulder are a metaphor for change and connect the viewer to the natural landscape that surrounds them. During the summer, if you stroll through the square on a weekday morning, you will likely find sculptor Masayuki Nagase working.
Yuki first visited the area nearly 20 years ago and was moved by the landscape of the Badlands, shaped by the dominant forces of wind and water. Passage of Wind and Water is divided into two sections. The Badlands Tapestry Garden explores wind and how it interacts with the landscape. The Black Hills Tapestry Garden focuses on the theme of water, the most important life element. The gardens converge at two tall spires that represent Rapid City.
Yuki’s sculptures have had an impact beyond the beautification of downtown. Yuki believes that public art is important for communities and that if the community isn’t interested in the work, it loses its meaning. He said, “My overall goal as an artist is to express the essence and beauty of nature and to work with metaphors that inspire and connect people with nature in their region.” Yuki has found ways to involve the public in his process, collecting hand prints from the community that will be incorporated into the sculptures. Along with creating a beautiful public space, the sculptures have inspired other artists, events, community educators, and students who did not have access to art programming in schools. Yuki has sponsored The Teaching Artist Program, or TAP, which pairs local artists with teachers so that they may incorporate visual arts lessons into their classroom curriculum.
On your next visit downtown, take a look at the progress of the sculptures, and be sure to show us your visit to Passage of Wind and Water on social media by using our hashtag #VisitRapidCity.