WSC Dedicates Renovated
Seymour Heritage Plaza
Wayne State dedicated the newly renovated Lyle Seymour Heritage Plaza on Sept. 24 during the college’s Homecoming activities. Seymour Plaza was originally dedicated in September 1995 to Dr. Lyle Seymour. He is the only Wayne State president to have been a Wayne High School student and a Wayne State student, faculty member, administrator and president.
Seymour joined the Wayne State faculty as a chemistry instructor in 1953. In 1961 he became chairman of the division of mathematics and science, and in 1967 was appointed dean of faculties. He served as interim president from March 1973 to April 1974 and was president from 1974 to 1982.
The renovation project was funded through the one-percent-for-art program mandated by state statute. Four proposals for the renovation were presented to Wayne State faculty, staff and students on Sept. 23, 2009. J. D. Hutton, Nebraska Arts Council representative, and WSC art professor Pearl Hansen, presented artists' submissions and audience members filled out feedback forms for review by the WSC one-percent-for-art committee to assist in selecting a finalist for the project.
Wayne State Associate Professor of Art Steve Elliott was chosen from among the finalists to renovate the plaza. Elliott served a four-year active duty tour in the United States Marine Corps, earned his B.F.A. from the University of Kansas and his M.F.A. from the University of Maryland. His large-scale sculptures and mixed-media works have been included in more than 40 solo and group exhibitions in 22 states nationwide, including the ARC Gallery in Chicago, Ill. and 516 ARTS in Albuquerque, N.M. Recent international exhibits include the Manoa Art Gallery in Honolulu, Hawaii, and a summer 2010 collaboration with the Zentral Bibliothek in Zurich, Switzerland. Elliott serves as chair of the Department of Art and Design at Wayne State College where he teaches sculpture and design.
Elliott describes his initial design process:
“My initial design included a series of functional sculptures that were intended for the space, but my proposal changed significantly once the deterioration of the original plaza was taken into consideration. Since a good majority of the brick-work and paving was in disrepair, my initial thought about anchoring structures to it seemed out of the question. After carefully inspecting the site, I came to the conclusion that, for the sake of longevity, the best solution would be to demolish the plaza and rebuild it in its entirety. Starting from a blank-slate also allowed me the opportunity to transition the flow of pedestrian traffic into the new Campus Commons and give the Herb Mignery sculpture a more prominent, three-dimensional view. Due to the size, scope and budget of the project, providing a complete rebuild proved to be a challenge because of the amount of demolition, excavation and flatwork that needed to be completed. Thankfully, the Wayne State Foundation was able to assist with funding some of the flatwork that was already in need of replacement.”
Elliott explains his creative process:
“After all of the details were taken into consideration, I began to research Celtic and maze designs in an attempt to break free of the hard edges and right angles associated with the surrounding architecture. The final project incorporates the existing trees, adds more green space and provides ample seating, in addition to being archival and maintenance free. My overall intent is for the viewer to see the space as an inviting place to convene, and to aesthetically function as a link between the new Campus Commons and Conn Library. Now that the new plaza is complete and the Herb Mignery sculpture has a more prominent view, the campus can begin to look at potential sites for exhibiting outdoor sculptures by students and visiting artists. My hope is to see the community using the plaza as a place to relax and take in the beauty of our campus. “