Ivy Tech announces artist for commissioned piece to celebrate 50 years in Fort Wayne

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A rendering depicts the 10-foot-tall sculpture proposed by Fort Wayne artist Jim Merz to celebrate Ivy Tech's 50th year in Fort Wayne. CONTRIBUTED

FORT WAYNE — Ivy Tech Community College’s Fort Wayne campus will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. In December 2018, the College announced its plans to select an artist(s) to create an original public art installation at Ivy Tech’s Coliseum Campus, near the corner of E. Coliseum Blvd. and North Anthony Blvd.

The original call asked established northeast Indiana artists to submit ideas that stand as a signature artwork of exceptional quality and enduring value that highlights the importance of community-focused higher education and reflects the identity of Ivy Tech. A committee comprised of college administration, visual communications faculty, and community volunteers reviewed the artist submissions and selected local artist Jim Merz to bring his idea to life on campus.

Merz

Fort Wayne resident Jim Merz grew up in the Detroit suburbs and received his BFA from the University of Michigan. He has worked with a variety of mediums, including wood, metal, digital, and mixed media. Merz specializes in building works at the intersection between art and science, which incorporate or evoke movement and light. He is equally at home with a welder for building his sculptures, a soldering iron for building the electronic components that drive his sculptures, and the computer for designing his own software to control the lights and motors. His kinetic sculptures have been exhibited nationally and internationally.

“The time I spent learning welding at my local community college has been instrumental in my development as an artist,” says Jim Merz. “I’m honored to be chosen to help Ivy Tech Fort Wayne mark this important milestone.”

His proposal is of an eye-catching deconstructed archway commemorating Ivy Tech and its 50 years. Arches traditionally represent history and strength, and they can be unforgettable monuments that visitors seek out. The 10-foot-tall sculpture’s interior space echoes the Ivy Tech logo while also symbolizing a transition point from one stage to the next. It is an ideal location for selfies and family photos, particularly on graduation day. The magnitude, simplicity, and boldness of this sculpture will capture the attention of pedestrians and motorists. It also provides an interactive experience. Custom lighting will make the sculpture a focal point during the evening hours.

“Jim’s sculpture will be a perfect mainstay at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne and will commemorate the past, present, and future of our campus,” says Chancellor Jerrilee K. Mosier, Ed.D. “As we move into the future, our roots as a vocational and technical school—along with our more recent designation as Indiana’s comprehensive community college—provide us the opportunity to offer multiple career pathways for individuals throughout northeast Indiana. Our students can enter the workforce, transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree, or receive needed training to move up in the workforce. We continue to serve the education and workforce needs of our communities.”

This public art project is being funded with a $12,000 commission (all inclusive of design, materials, construction, installation) for Merz to realize his work. Private community donations and other College fundraising efforts will provide the commission.

“Through Ivy Tech’s history and strong community support, we will raise the funds by connecting with alumni, retirees, and northeast Indiana business and industry partners,” says Margaret Sturm, executive director of resource development. “Jim’s creation symbolizes what we are looking for in reflecting our mission to serve our communities and building a stronger northeast Indiana.”

The College is seeking the community’s help in completing this lasting legacy and beautification project to celebrate Ivy Tech’s 50th year in Fort Wayne and connecting the College with the community. Donors will be recognized at the unveiling of the public art in the fall of 2019. Those interested in being part of the effort should contact Margaret Sturm, executive director of resource development, at 260-480-2010 or msturm7@ivytech.edu.