Luminary 830, a sculpture by Carrboro, N.C. based artist Mike Roig, on the Brenau University Gainesville historic campus on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. The artwork was facilitated through the Vision 2030 Public Art Committee, an anonymous donor, and the North Georgia Community Foundation. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Luminary 830, a sculpture by Carrboro, N.C. based artist Mike Roig, on the Brenau University Gainesville historic campus on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. The artwork was facilitated through the Vision 2030 Public Art Committee, an anonymous donor, and the North Georgia Community Foundation. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Kinetic Sculpture Highlights Brenau Support for Public Arts

Aug. 30, 2017
Kristen Bowman

The installation of a striking  kinetic sculpture that literally moves with the wind and reflects light from all directions with its polished metal surfaces on Aug. 28 demonstrates Brenau University’s long-standing commitment to sharing all forms of art and arts programs with the communities it serves.

Created by North Carolina sculptor Mike Roig, the piece called “Luminary 830” now resides alongside one of Gainesville’s most-trafficked thoroughfares where it is easily accessible to hundreds of motorists and pedestrians each day. The location is part of an ongoing renovation and improvement of the Brenau University campus entrance plaza on Green Street bordered by Academy Street and the Jacobs Building. The sculpture features a  windmill-like rotating flame image that comprises two counter-rotating shapes. Roig said he took his initial inspiration for the work from the Brenau logo and its motto, “as gold refined by fire.”

Mike Roig, a Carrboro, N.C. based artist, works to install his sculpture Luminary 830 on the Brenau University Gainesville historic campus on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. The artwork was facilitated through the Vision 2030 Public Art Committee, an anonymous donor, and the North Georgia Community Foundation.

Mike Roig, a Carrboro, N.C. based artist, works to install his sculpture Luminary 830 on the Brenau University Gainesville historic campus on Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. The artwork was facilitated through the Vision 2030 Public Art Committee, an anonymous donor, and the North Georgia Community Foundation. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

“Luminary has the associations with light and the associations with flame, but it also has aspirational hope that ‘What you’re churning out there is a bunch of luminaries from that school,’” he said. “I hope all those budding young graduates who come out of there live up to that aspiration.”

An anonymous donor commissioned and paid for the artwork as well as some of the ongoing improvements to the plaza area. The North Georgia Community Foundation and the Vision 2030 public art committee facilitated the Brenau art installation initiative. Vision 2030, sponsored by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, is a community project that coordinates groups of volunteers leading a wide range of long-term initiatives designed to position Gainesville-Hall County as the most enviable community in Georgia by the year 2030.

Brenau has been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the public arts initiative. As a result, the Luminary 830 donor enthusiastically endorsed the installation on the Brenau campus because, “Edison gave light to the world. Brenau gives light to the mind.”

“We are very grateful to the donor of this marvelous, innovative work of art for selecting the Brenau campus as the locale for sharing it with the public,” said Brenau President Ed Schrader.

Luminary 830 is the second piece of sculpture in the plaza. The first is an enormous bronze sculpture of a golden tiger – the Brenau mascot – by Cumming, Georgia, artist Gregory Johnson, who has other works on the Brenau campus. Brenau students named the tiger Lucile, in honor of Lucile Townsend Pearce, the wife of longtime Brenau President H. J. Pearce.

“The new Mike Roig piece will enhance that desire for people to engage with art,” Schrader said. “Indeed, the donor specified to Mike that the sculpture had to have ‘Instagram-ability’ so individuals could share selfies and other photos through their social media networks. The Lucile sculpture has already become an artistic landmark in Gainesville and Hall County with both residents and visitors to the community stopping by to see it and photograph it.”

Although Luminary 830 is Roig’s first work at Brenau, there are many other sculptures in the university’s impressive permanent collection of artworks, which includes thousands of paintings, drawing, photographs, pieces of sculpture and other works – many on public display throughout all of Brenau’s multi-city campus locations. For example, Gregory Johnson’s piece depicting a modern Brenau woman sitting in jeans working on a laptop computer is one of several works on the front lawn of the historic campus that includes pieces by Jean Westmacott, Andrew Crawford and – the most recent addition – Jane DeDecker. Colorado artist Dedecker gave the life-sized bronze titled “Harriet Tubman and Child” to the university in September 1997. It has been on display on a site adjacent to the Brenau Trustee Library, but, following a decision last year by university officials to make it more accessible to the public, the striking image of the 19th-century anti-slavery heroine took its place on the front lawn earlier this summer.

Schrader said that Brenau will have a formal dedication of the Roig work once plaza renovations are farther along.

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