Winners named in Public Art Exhibition on Hilton Head

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"Botanical Fainting Couch" by Sarah Peters

The Public Art Fund of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry has announced the winners of the 2018 Public Art Exhibition on Hilton Head Island.

During the first three months of the exhibition, visitors could vote for their favorite sculpture. The exhibition closed Jan. 30.

More than 1,000 votes were cast on paper ballots, online and through the Community Foundation's Facebook page. Artists for the top three vote-getting pieces receive a cash award.

The People's Choice winners are:

First Place: "Botanical Fainting Couch" by Sarah Peters of Falmouth, Mass. Prize: $3,000

The 4' x 8'4" x 5'6" cast bronze "couch" is made up of the 26 letters of the alphabet. Each letter has the texture/imprint of a different plant. The plant is identified by the Latin genus (the scientific name) that begins with that letter: A for Acer, B for Begonia, C for Comptonia, etc.

Peters spent several years investigating plants and their scientific classification and experimenting with materials and technique; the result is a unique and innovative functional sculpture that offers moments for curiosity.

As part of the exhibition, visitors can participate in a scavenger hunt to find some of the plants included in the piece and native to the Lowcountry.

Second Place: "Hilton Head to the Moon" by William Bennett of Charlottesville, Va. Prize: $2,000

This 20-foot tall sculpture seeks to bridge the distance from the earth to the sky, envisioning connections between Hilton Head Island and the larger universe. The work, rendered in wood, steel, copper, aluminum and mirrored plastic, is composed of a building-like form with steeple and extends to form a pathway to a moon and single star.

"Hilton Head to the Moon" was inspired by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik's book of essays titled "Paris to the Moon" (2001), which references an anonymous 19th century engraving illustrating a train leaving a station in Paris and rising on tracks heading to the moon.

Third Place: "Beach Umbrella" by Casey Schachner of Lolo, Mont. Prize: $1,000

"Beach Umbrella," made of marble and steel, creates a juxtaposition of a historic, permanent material alongside contemporary, pop culture subject matter. Schachner believes this mashup makes the stonework more accessible and allows a sense of discovery, a close-up moment to explore the space the umbrella occupies, and question the values we hold with regards to materials.

In addition to the People's Choice, the Purchase Prize is selected by a jury comprised of local artists, art experts and enthusiasts, and community leaders. This year's selected sculpture will be permanently installed at the Hilton Head Regional Airport.

The entrance to the airport is being redesigned, and the sculpture will be incorporated into the newly designed entrance. It is expected to be completed by September 2019.

Purchase Prize Winner: "Humanus" by Kevin Eichner of Hilton Head Island.

Eichner pairs industry with nature, particularly as a celebration of humanity and the connection between physical material and ephemeral ideas. In his labored process of cutting, bending and twisting industrial I-beams, Eichner highlights the liveliness of a material that is often associated with only toughness and rigidity.

"Humanus" blossoms and grows within the industrial beams, embracing the bonds of family, strength, community and the oneness of humanity.

The I-beams used in "Humanus" came from Hilton Head Island. Eichner is happy that his piece "was created on Hilton Head Island with materials from Hilton Head Island and, now, will be staying on Hilton Head Island. To me, it represents community."

The win is especially meaningful to Eichner, as he is in the process of moving from Hilton Head to North Carolina.

The biennial Public Art Exhibition is an initiative of the Public Art Fund of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. Since 2010, the Public Art Fund has secured 11 sculptures that have been permanently installed in public spaces around Hilton Head Island. To learn more, visit www.hhipublicart.org.

For more information about the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, call 843-681-9100 or visit cf-lowcountry.org.

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