Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is honored to announce the acquisition and permanent siting of a major site-specific commission by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. Designed and created to be an integral element of the new Meijer Gardens Welcome Center, Utopia consists of 19-foot tall portraits of four young women of different backgrounds and nationalities. Utopia will be located in the Welcome Center’s spectacular new 7,400 square-foot Garden Pavilion room. The iconic sculpture is being created in Barcelona, Spain and carved from white marble. This immense sculpture is unique to the Meijer Gardens collection and to Plensa’s prestigious body of work.
Over the past thirty years, Plensa has produced a multifaceted body of work that speaks to the capacity and beauty of humanity, often using the human figure as a universal symbol. Celebrating the similarities and shared humanity of the world’s seemingly divergent cultures, the artist seeks to connect with his viewers on an intuitive level. Meijer Gardens is privileged to enjoy a very special relationship with Plensa. Since 2006, Meijer Gardens has been home to Plensa’s I, you, she or he…, a gift from Fred & Lena Meijer. I, you, she or he…, another site-specific commission for Meijer Gardens, includes a composition of three figures seated on boulders, whose shells are made of stainless-steel letters. Faces are left open to encourage the universality of the forms, and visitors are encouraged to walk among the sculptures. The composition and setting for I, you, she or he… were selected by Plensa and he intends it to represent an ongoing, silent conversation.
“Meijer Gardens is thrilled beyond words to be once again working with Jaume to secure what I know will be an iconic work of art celebrating art, the diversity of life brought by people from around the world and how beauty can truly make the world a better place,” said David Hooker, President & CEO at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park. “Our hope is that the whole world will be able to experience Utopia and have their lives enriched.”
“Utopia is our human landscape, a space to embrace humanity and our collective dreams,” said Plensa.
About Jaume Plensa
Born in 1955, Jaume Plensa is one of the world’s foremost sculptors and highly active in public spaces with celebrated projects spanning the globe in such cities as Chicago, San Diego, Seattle, Miami, Montréal, London, Paris, Dubai, Bangkok, Shanghai and Tokyo.
The winner of many national and international awards including the prestigious Velazquez Prize awarded by the Spanish Cultural Ministry (2013) and the Medaille de Chevalier des Arts and des Lettres awarded by the French Ministry of Culture (1993), Plensa has had solo museum exhibitions at the MACBA: Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid Spain; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, England; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas; and the Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio among many others. Jaume Plensa’s Together was presented at the Basilica San Giorgio Maggiore in Italy as a collateral event of the 56th Venice Biennale.
Plensa has been a teacher at the Ecole nationale superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and given lectures at universities, museums and cultural institutions around the world. He lives and works in Barcelona.
About Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners
Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have been working together since 1977 and founded their New York architecture practice in 1986. Their studio focuses on work for institutions such as schools, museums and not-for-profits. Their buildings are carefully made from the inside out in ways that speak to both efficiency and the spirit. A sense of rootedness, light, texture, detail, and most of all experience are at the heart of what they design. Over the past three decades, their dedication to this work has been recognized by numerous national and international citations including the 2013 Firm of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects. In parallel with their practice, Tod and Billie are devoted participants in the broader cultural community with longstanding associations with many arts organizations. They both maintain active academic careers and lecture worldwide. As educators and practitioners, they are deeply committed to creating a better world through architecture.
Progressive AE is supporting Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and the building is being constructed by Owen-Ames-Kimball Co.