Judicial Department wants students' ideas for sculpture in new judicial center

Judicial Department wants students' ideas for sculpture in new judicial center
Thomas Sayre

"Imagine how cool it would be if you were an eighth grader visiting the Judicial Center and you saw a word that you had submitted in the art," says Jon Sarche, public information coordinator for the Colorado Judicial Department, on its current art endeavor. The department is asking middle-school students from around the state to submit justice-related words, phrases, names and dates -- anything from "equality" to the Constitution. The top hundred words or so will be carved into a fifty-foot sculpture that will be displayed at the new Judicial Center, slated to open in 2013.

The artwork at the in-the-works Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center is required by a state law that calls for one percent of the budget for a new public building to go to art. As arrangements for the $258 million Judicial Center were finalized, a committee that included several Supreme Court justices, other judges and judicial department employees, as well as businesspeople and artists, considered several proposals for artwork. They ultimately decided on artist Thomas Sayre's design for an elaborate, mammoth steel sculpture.

Sayre, a renowned sculptor and co-founder of the design firm Clearscapes, made his vision stand out from the rest through his incorporation of student contributions.

The finished sculpture will hang from the ceiling of the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center, next to a part of the building referred to as the Learning Center, with "a series of interactive displays where people can learn about the rule of law, the process of selecting judges, putting a case on trial," explains Sarche. The Learning Center is designed to attract students and families, and Sayre's student-inspired sculpture will give "a sense of ownership," Sarche predicts.

Sayre's completed sculpture will be a cone of intertwining steel bands, with a large light shining from the top of the sculpture on a map of Colorado at the bottom. The words chosen from student submissions will be cut into the strips of steel, creating shadows and reflections on the walls and ground. As people ascend the staircase next to the sculpture, the different angles will reveal new aspects of the artwork -- just as the justice system is constantly revealing new facets.

Middle school students who wish to suggest a justice-related word can do so by sending an e-mail to jon.sarche@judicial.state.co.us, with "Sayre project" as the subject line. Submissions will be considered until January 6, 2012.

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