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New downtown art installation symbolizes birth, death at Mayo Clinic

Published: May. 16, 2022 at 6:48 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Rochester city leaders say they’re excited about a new public art feature downtown.

It’s a combination of mist and white lights surrounding the fountain and reflection pool in Peace Plaza.

“And now, because of the changes and the exciting announcement we have today, that water that’s flowing over the words is going to be used in a different way. A new art,” Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said.

Artist Eric Anderson and various Rochester leaders
Artist Eric Anderson and various Rochester leaders(KTTC)

It’s a interesting experience to see the mist and lights appear, but they aren’t based on the time of day. Instead, the display is triggered by something much more significant. The installation in Peace Plaza is titled ‘Wakefield’ and has a connection with Mayo Clinic.

“It represents first and last breaths,” artist Eric Anderson said. “So at the Mayo Clinic, in real time, whenever a baby is born or when there is an end of life notification the installation will light up with a white light and fog. Not signifying a beginning or an end, but really the poles of life and the wholeness of life.”

Anderson says this project has been in the works for six years.

“It started as only lights and then as the project evolved, we began to explore how we can make this thing visible and activate it during the day, during the night,” Anderson said.

For him, the project provided a new experience.

Peace Fountain and mist
Peace Fountain and mist(KTTC)

“It’s not something I ever thought I would work with, would be fog,” Anderson said. “I just never thought of that as a material to work with and so when that began to come together, we realized that was a possibility.”

“Often cities think of art after the fact,” Norton said. “We’re not thinking of art after the fact, we’re incorporating it into everything we do and build. Not only here, but in Discovery Walk and around the rest of the city moving forward.”

“My intent is to create something that will allow others to experience the art differently, to ask different questions of the world that they live in; that they are all going to be different than what I bring to the table,” Anderson said.

The mist and lights are estimated to happen around 20 to 30 times a day, all depending on the number of births and deaths.

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