Sculpture Enhancing Beauty of Trail

Article by Matt Murdock | KPC News | December 5, 2017  
WATERLOO — Jed Freels hopes his artwork is a distraction.
His steel sculpture depicts DNA, the building blocks of life that all living things share, and it’s now installed at the Auburn Waterloo Trail park across from DeKalb High School.
Freels is looking for his project to fulfill one of the main functions of art: make people stop what they’re doing, make them do a double-take, and, most importantly, make them think.
“Why don’t we want people coming down the trail, stopping and saying, ‘What in the heck is that?’ If they do that, we’ve done our job,” Freels told a gathering at a dedication of the sculpture Wednesday. “We’re making the bikeway into an artway.”
Freels, members of the Auburn Waterloo Trail Committee and donors who helped make the project possible gathered for a ribbon cutting on a surprisingly pleasant late November afternoon.
The copper-colored sculpture stands on a square steel base measuring 8 feet, 6 inches. The base supports 18 base pairs of DNA constructed with 8-inch I-beams encased in a 10- inch, 11-gauge double helix.
A 4-foot spire at the top of the base pairs gives the sculpture a height of 18 feet. It weighs nearly 7,200 pounds.
Supports at each corner represent humans, insects, plants and fish, and help to point out that all living things are connected.
Freels entered the sculpture in ArtPrize, a public show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, last year. It was displayed outside Van Andel Arena, a nearly 11,000 seat coliseum that hosts concerts, sporting events and other conventions.
Freels, who said he’s working on another sculpture dealing with the circle of life, said an appreciation for art makes a community stronger.
“The power of art in a community is underestimated,” he said. “As I get further and further into the art world, I realize that when you have a community that supports art, you know there’s a quality and a culture there that’s good.”
Donors made sure the sculpture is presented with style. Ken Metzger, one of the committee’s leaders, supervised the project and also combined with Fetters Construction President Eric Pedersen to provide a round concrete base for the sculpture. Don Hollman built and installed a metal railing around the base. Horizon Bank provided financial support.
“People ask me why I do this,” Metzger said. “I’ve been very blessed to work and live in DeKalb County. This is a way to pay it forward for future generations.”
Dick Shankle of the committee said the sculpture is Phase III of the trail park. Phase I was repairing the trail itself, and Phase II was the construction of a pavilion with tables and a drinking fountain last year.
The park has had other improvements, with Mike and Pat Ley donating a driveway and parking area, The DeKalb County Community Foundation donating a bench and Von Milliner donating a bike rack.

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