The Nashua International Sculpture Symposium’s outdoor art studio is in the perfect location for this year’s theme, “Reflections on the River.” It’s located just outside NIMCO in the Nashua Millyard, where you can see the Nashua River rushing by — and if you listen between the clinking, grinding and chipping of metal and rock, you can hear it too.
Every spring for the past eight years, City Arts Nashua has invited three international artists — who, this year, are Ana Duncan of Ireland, Petre Petrov of Bulgaria and Ennica Mukomberanwa of Zimbabwe — to create art for the city as part of the symposium.
During their three-week stay — this year from May 7 through May 29 — artists work from 8:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Visitors often trickle in during this period to see the artists at work and learn about where they’re from. New Hampshire sculptor/Andres Institute of Art co-founder John Weidman oversees and directs. At night, they bunk in Nashua homes and are fed by Nashua residents. To date, Nashua remains the only city in the United States with an annual international sculpture symposium.
This year, all the artists have tackled the theme differently. Duncan went the most literal route, having Googled Nashua before arriving in New Hampshire. When complete, the piece will look like a gigantic stainless steel sail with curvy sides and a rectangle slice in the middle. The shiny material tackles the “reflections” part of the theme, while the shape itself pays homage the city’s rivers.
“The inspiration came when I was researching the city of Nashua. I just spotted how curvy the river of Nashua is. The shape [of the piece] is inspired by the way the river cuts into the landscape,” she said during a break. “One side is the Nashua River. The other is the Merrimack. Then, of course the two rivers meet in Nashua. The pieces connect, and then the center part is the man-made canal system in [Mine Falls Park].”
When finished, Petrov’s sculpture will comprise a stone base (representing the pebble bottom of the Nashua River), a weathering steel window inspired by the city’s architecture and wave-shaped panels that pass through it.
Mukomberanwa’s sculpture, “Mother and Child,” is more metaphorical, representing the fluid love that flows from a mother to her child. However, the theme, she said over the steady “clunk, clunk!” of her hammer on rock, can relate to the flow of any kind of love.
This is Mukomberanwa’s second trip to New Hampshire; she participated in the Andres Institute of Art 2014 International Sculpture Symposium.
“I came back because I still want to learn more about this type of granite,” she said. “John [Weidman] knows this material well, but experience is the best teacher.”
Materials come from all over — the Milford Quarry, the Andres Institute of Art and also out-of-state locations — and tools are shared with Andres and the City Arts Nashua budget.
Weidman said he participates because he’s had a lot of help in his own sculpting career. He often meets potential artists during his own travels (he met Petrov in person this year during a symposium he was jurying in Iran), and he invites them to New Hampshire based on their work quality, the safe techniques in which they create, and whether they can do so while being observed by and interacting with the general public.
There’s a closing reception on Saturday, May 30, at 1 p.m. at each of the installation sites (Mine Falls Park, Roby Park and Field’s Grove). City Arts Nashua president Kathy Hersh said a trolley will transport attendees from each of the sites.
As seen in the May 21, 2015 issue of the Hippo.