New sculpture highlights Grand Rapids’ arts culture

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“The Four Elements,” by Jaume Plensa, consists of letters and element symbols representing air, water, fire and earth to create a human form, signifying the different characteristics that bring people together to form a human race. Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

Downtown Grand Rapids now is home to a 16-foot-tall stainless-steel sculpture.

“The Four Elements” was installed Friday, Nov. 19, at the northeast corner of Monroe Avenue NW and Lyon Street NW. The 5,400-pound sculpture was designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and commissioned by the DeVos family.

“Grand Rapids’ reputation as an art destination has been growing for decades,” said Experience Grand Rapids President and CEO Doug Small. “As community leaders help to bring the work of acclaimed international artists to our doorstep, it not only enhances the ‘quality of place’ for area residents — it enhances the draw for visitors from across the country and around the world.”

“The Four Elements” consists of letters and element symbols representing air, water, fire and earth to create a human form, signifying the different characteristics that bring people together to form a human race.

“We have been inspired by the long history in Grand Rapids of so many others bringing in significant and unique art to serve as an integral feature of downtown and, in many ways, the front step into our community,” said Pamella DeVos. “The addition of this Plensa piece is meant to portray a welcoming message of unity and diversity and is a wonderful addition to our city’s legacy and public collection.”

The sculpture is one of three pieces by Plensa in the Grand Rapids area. The other two are at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

“This magnificent sculpture will be one more point of pride for all those in Grand Rapids who recognize public art as intrinsic to a high quality of life,” said Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss. “I am so grateful to the DeVos family and to the many benefactors who have brought the work of internationally acclaimed artists to our city for all to enjoy.”

Plensa has designed other sculptures in Chicago; San Diego; Seattle; Miami; Montreal; London; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Bangkok; Shanghai; and Tokyo.

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