When the massive Bonnet Springs Park opens next year, a sculpture that mimics the sounds of rain and wind will rest among nature in the Harrell Family Botanical Gardens. For now, it has been installed in a temporary home near the park welcome center along George Jenkins Boulevard.

The Sound Wall sculpture was commissioned by Platform Art Inc., and Bonnet Springs Park, with major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the state of Florida.

The $150,000 project took two years from inception to completion, and installation represents a collaboration that created a “contemplative piece that’s elegant and visually references sound,” according to Cynthia Haffey, executive director of Platform Art.

Bonnet Springs Park will occupy 167 acres west of downtown Lakeland. The Sound Wall will be part of the Harrell Family Botanical Garden, shown at No. 10 on the map.

From the outset the plan was to engage students. Haffey said she was impressed with the quality of work and the training being afforded students in the All Saints Academy Innovation Center with Director Edward New.

The school’s innovation studio pairs students with professionals from the NuVu creativity center in Cambridge, Mass.

Haffey engaged Becky Ault and the team at the Art Research Enterprises Inc. of Lancaster, Pa., to oversee creation and production of the sculpture. 

Ault is no stranger to producing work with a permanent home in Lakeland. She and her team fabricated the sculpture of the fallen hero that sits outside of the Lakeland Police Department on Massachusetts Avenue, as well as the statue of Publix funder George Jenkins and former city recreation director Joker Marchant outside the stadium at Tigertown that bears Marchant’s name. 

A former educator, Ault looked at working with students in a classroom setting as “a natural venue” and as a means of “staying active and young.”  Her involvement in the project ranged from conducting critiques and workshops during the concept and design phase to helping students consider the artistic merit of their work and the proper material to help showcase it.

Thirty entries were submitted, all representing any of the five senses. Five of the projects were considered noteworthy, and then the stand-out project was chosen. It was from student design artists Laura Prazdnicane and Jaiyun ‘Lucy’ Jhang. 

“I was extremely impressed with the maturity of their technique,” Ault said. “It was not easy to select the final piece.”

The Sound Wall sculpture is made of polished stainless steel and features a 15-foot serpentine wall integrated into the landscape. It is partially covered in natural vines and a 9-foot vertical section of decorative polychromed elements made of stainless steel, glass, and interactive chimes. The piece is designed to mimic the sound of rain and wind, yielding the name “The Sound Wall.”

‘’The project fulfills a Platform Art goal to develop a site-responsive public art,” said Haffey. The sculpture will move to its permanent location at the Harrell Family Botanical Gardens in 2021. Haffey says it is part of a plan to fulfill a dream of Lakeland being “a destination for public art.”

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