Olivia Warro hunched over a square concrete pad, drilling the last bolt in place to secure her 8-foot-6-inch sculpture.

Warro, 23, spent four months building and welding her light gray and green piece called "Deer" out of steel pipes.

"I was inspired by bringing some wildlife into downtown Jacksonville, bringing some green into the urban center," Warro said. "It feels so dry sometimes in a city. . ."

Recent UNF graduates Warro, Stephen Magyar and Jenn Peek sourced their own materials, engineered and then transformed their small sculptures a couple of feet tall into the large-scale models.

After about a year of planning, designing and building, the sculptures were installed near the fountain area in Hemming Park on Monday where they will remain for a year.



Jenny Hager, a UNF sculpture professor, said the process began last fall with a competition for the students to construct small models of items relating to native Florida plants and animals or local history and then present them to a committee. The committee of people from UNF, the Museum of Contemporary Art and members and artists of the downtown Jacksonville community were selected to vote on their favorite one before the large-scale sculpture was built.  

Originally, only one was to be picked and funded. After seeing the sculptures, Preston Haskell, founder and chairman of the Haskell Company, donated the money to pay for two more sculptures.

The students each received a $1,000 stipend to build the sculpture while UNF's program got money for tools and equipment.

Magyar's sculpture, called "Sunshine Mimosa," is made of three round pink and yellow flowers, each with 50 rods cut to 2-feet long, sitting on top of 10-foot brown and yellow striped poles. With a machine, Magyar bent the poles into what he called a perfect arch, and then welded them into base plates.

A forklift dangled the flowers one by one across the corner of Duval and Laura streets and into the corner of the park.

 He said he spent five hours a day last week painting the sculpture and included two coats of glow-in-the-dark paint with the hope of installing a black-light bulb over the sculpture to illuminate it at night.

"It didn't end up being relatively simple," Magyar said, "that on top of all the other stuff I was doing last semester, I'm surprised I got it done honestly."

Jenn Peek's sculpture, called "Histor-Tree of Jacksonvile," is inspired by historical events in the city's history, will sit in between Magyar and Warro's pieces.

Christina Parrish Stone, managing director of Hemming Park, said it cost about $25,000 once the price of insurance for the sculptures, the students' stipends, the materials and the events associated with their installation were totaled. Parrish She said more than half of the money was raised by Hemming Park while the rest came from business owners, private foundations and individual donors.

With UNF, Parrish Stone said Hemming Park's goal is to have a five-year project to bring art into the park.

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"Rather than a permanent project, like purchasing one piece of sculpture that would be here forever, doing something temporary that would change out ever year seemed liked a good way to go," she said. "Because then people have a reason to come back."

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