Downtown Grand Rapids to receive sculpture promoting unity, diversity

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The Jaume Plensa sculpture uses letter characters and element symbols representing air, water, fire and earth to create much of a human form. It aims is to convey a message of unity and diversity. Courtesy Experience Grand Rapids

Downtown Grand Rapids will be the home of a new sculpture by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa.

The 16-foot stainless steel sculpture will be placed at the northeast corner of Monroe Ave. NW and Lyon St. NW this winter after its construction in Barcelona, Spain.

The sculpture uses letter characters and element symbols representing air, water, fire and earth to create much of a human form. It aims is to convey a message of unity and diversity.

“Grand Rapids is increasingly seen as a hub for the arts thanks to Meijer Gardens, ArtPrize, the Calder, Kendall College, the GRAM and many more,” Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said. “The highly visible placement of this Plensa sculpture in our center city will only further that reputation and continue the tremendous work being done to enhance our city.”

The sculpture will be Plensa’s third piece in the Grand Rapids area with the other two at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. The DeVos family commissioned this new sculpture for display in the city. Plensa has projects in cities across the globe, including Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Miami, Montreal, London, Dubai, Bangkok, Shanghai and Tokyo.

“We have been inspired by the great work of so many others over the years who have brought unique pieces of art to our community’s downtown and beyond,” Pamella DeVos said. “Grand Rapids is home to the nation’s very first public project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. Our streets are graced with statues of our former leaders, developed as part of the Grand Rapids Legend Project started by the late Peter Secchia. Meijer Gardens and ArtPrize continue to enrich our lives and our perspectives of the world. It only felt right to contribute to that history in some way, and we’re eager to have a Plensa sculpture added to this town’s legacy.”

“Jaume Plensa uses beauty to celebrate the diversity of people to create joy and understanding,” said David Hooker, president and CEO of Meijer Gardens. “This beautiful new sculpture joins Plensa’s I, you, she or he … and the soon-to-be dedicated Utopia at Meijer Gardens as iconic artworks showing our community to be a place where all people belong. We are deeply grateful to the DeVos family for this special acquisition for the benefit of all.”

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