Sioux City, Iowa — I’ll be quite forward –is not a place I really think of…for any reason. I did once drive through the city about nine years ago on a road trip from South Carolina to Alaska for a summer job. I’ll tell you what I remember of that city. The name–Sioux City. Perhaps it was a city built around training chefs? Oh, that’s ‘sous’. Ooooor maybe a city famous for taking chefs to court?! –Sioux sous suit city?
You see what I’m saying though. Not being from the Midwest, it wasn’t even on my radar, and has not been hitherto until this month. I recently learned about a community project in place to honor a variety of regular, yet outstanding persons. It is called the ‘Celebrating Community Project’ and uses descriptive plaques accompanying beautiful, detailed sculptures created by the very talented Mark Avery.
The purpose of these works of art and descriptions is to recognize local people who made a significant difference in their community across the whole spectrum of humanity. A few examples include the first native American woman to become a medical doctor in the U.S., program starters for the homeless and victims of domestic violence, the elderly, and the disabled, etc. They are and will be displayed quite visibly in downtown Sioux City near Nebraska and 5th, by the Martin Luther King Transportation Center and the Sioux City Public Museum.
How I learned about this project was at my place of employment. Sculptures and plaques generally require some type of foundation or support in order to be displayed in an aesthetically pleasing, structurally sound, and eye-catching way. As it would turn out, my job as a custom stone fabricator, is to make that very thing! The Base Shop, in Loveland, CO has been a leader for many years in stone fabrication for artists and businesses countrywide. We are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to be a part of this exceptional community tribute, some 560 miles away.
I have assisted in the construction of the stunning black granite pedestals, and most recently have been responsible for measuring and securing the plaques to said bases. Though my role is minimal in the scope of the whole project, I consider it a privilege to contribute to the admonishment and tribute of those who often go most unnoticed, yet often make the most difference. As I have read through the biographical summaries on the plaques, it has stirred a communal notion in my heart, and encouraged me to be aware of the difference makers in my own world. It is my sincere hope that the completed pieces will have the same effect on all of those who come across these lovely fixtures of art that represent the kindness and compassion that does exist within humanity.
I think many people of this nature–I like to call them ‘agents of kindness’–do not seek recognition or notice. I think they might blush uncomfortably at the notion of a bust of their own liking being displayed publicly. I think they might not enjoy the fanfare and prefer to fly under the radar so they have more energy to get things done that truly matter. I understand and respect that, but I am also glad for these types of visible reminders for myself and future generations. Reminders that there are human lights shining out there in the dark. That we don’t have to be famous or hold some recognizable position to do good.
If you ever find yourself in Sioux City, I recommend stopping for an educational and inspirational viewing of these local heroes so elegantly displayed. I carry some bias here, but I would also urge you to consider the often overlooked base (a carefully crafted work of delicate art in its own right) that is the means by which the sculpture can adequately be portrayed. Like these local heroes, the pedestals might not be what you hear about, but they are integral in providing necessary support.
If you don’t yet have plans to visit Sioux City, in the meantime you can find more information on the project and each honoree at Celebrating Community Project.
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