Olympia sculptor Ross Matteson is not one to shy away from complex art projects. Witness the one he will unveil Sept. 11 at the Harbor House on Percival Landing in Olympia.
Entitled “The Structure of Love is Indestructible,” the composition is a glass and polished stainless steel monument that includes two, 10-foot tall glass towers etched with hundreds of doves in ascending flight.
The towers, intended to suggest the World Trade Center in New York City, each weigh 440 pounds and are mounted on a 600-pound steel base.
The sculpture grew out of a smaller one — a four-foot tall tower — Matteson created in October 2001 to honor the individuals from 90 countries who lost their lives or were affected by the terrorist attack on the World Trace Center on Sept. 11, 2001. His goal at the time was to draw attention to their lives without being sensational, depressing or emphasizing mortality. He chose to accent the power of hope and love, rather than succumb to the portrayal of dominant, inevitable evil.
In the ensuing years, the original work of art grew into a larger monument in both size and reach. It’s meant to embrace the inherent goodness in people, and acknowledge the unique lives of victims of any tragedy, not just the victims of 9/11.
Along the way, Matteson has built a community of project participants who have donated time, materials, labor and inspiration.
Call it a true labor of love. Think of Matteson as the cheerleader, designer, project manager and visionary who is bound and determined to make it happen.
On Monday, I caught up with Matteson at Studio 23 Metalworks in East Olympia. The metal shop is the work place of Mike Rathke, who is building the stainless steel base designed to keep the glass towers erect. As the art work’s public debut draws near, the two collaborators worked on some of the fine-tune engineering to make sure the stainless steel base works.
“It’s like fitting together a puzzle — I like that,” Rathke said.
Matteson, whose bronze and marble sculptures — primarily wildlife — are found in museums and private collections in 16 countries, said the Structure of Love is the most logistically complex piece of art he’s ever crafted.
“There’s a lot of people involved and a lot of financial exposure,” Matteson said.
The project team launched a month-long fund raising project on Kickstarter that concludes Friday. The goal is to raise $16,000. As of Monday afternoon, 32 backers had pledged $6,410.
Regardless of the success of the Kickstarter campaign, the art will be unveiled at a free public event at the Harbor House that begins at noon, Sept. 11, and continues 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., through Sept. 15.
The five-day art debut will include keynote speakers and music with a different theme each day. They include:
Day 1: Honoring Service, including support for the project from military veterans and the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters; Day 2: Recognizing Peace and Justice, with a talk by Cindy Corrie of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice and music by Seattle folk singer Jim Page; Day 3: a video featuring art project supporter Alice Musabende, who witnessed the execution of her entire family during the Rwandan genocide of 1994; Day 4: Uncovering the Truth in Nature with a talk by Matteson and Day 5: Interfaith Unity with a talk by Fred LaMotte, Interfaith director and chaplain at The Evergreen State College.
Whiles it’s no small task, the sculpture is designed to be disassembled and shipped to other locations. It will be on display again April 14, 2014 in the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Okla.
After that, it’s anybody’s guess where the art work might surface. But Matteson has a vision of final home for it.
“I’d love to see this piece in the World Trade Center Museum in New York City,” he said.
For more information on “The Structure of Love is Indestructible,” including the project participants, the Olympia debut and the Kickstarter campaign, visit www.structureoflove.com.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 email@example.com