Suikang Zhao Selected to Complete Overpass Design!


PAWTUCKET – When all is said and done and Pawtucket has its work of art, Suikang Zhao says he’ll go home with little or no profit.

But what the Chinese sculptor from New York lacks in newfound wealth, he says he’ll more than make back in the prestige of crafting a piece that will be seen by millions driving on I-95, “landmark” art that reconnects a city and tells the world that this is the place to be.

Zhao, the artist selected through the Art Bridges Pawtucket initiative, presented his vision for transforming the George Street bridge at a downtown forum Monday, and those in attendance said they love where he’s going with it.

Zhao told The Breeze that he’s a “different kind” of artist, someone who loves ambiguity and mystery and isn’t afraid to get input from others in creating his works, which are known around the world.

“In a way I’m out of control, but it’s a good out of control,” he said.

The planned art for the George Street bridge is “beyond me, or bigger than me, or better than me,” said Zhao. He’s initiating the process of incorporating art on the bridge, he said, but hopefully the project will lead to a broader movement. Art is “part of humanity,” he said, and some of the best art is found in public spaces, where humanity lives.

“I just want to bring art back to life,” he said.

Though Zhao will receive $100,000 for his work on the bridge, he said that amount of money isn’t as much as it sounds. By the time this 150-foot project is complete, just about all of that will be gone, he said, and that’s OK. He said he’s a firm believer that public money for public art “should go back to the public.” Many people don’t realize what an economic development tool public art can be, he said.

Zhao said his plan with his conceptual art design is to “soften” and “change the shape of this industrial bridge,” evoking a sort of “tapestry” that points to Pawtucket’s past as a textile city.

“Brightly colored 70-foot zones of perforated stainless sheet metal and a mass of forged vine metal text will bring form, color and language to the bridge,” according to a synopsis for the project. “The perforated metal sheet relates to Pawtucket’s textile industry in the early days and utilizes today’s laser technology to produce a fabric-like visual result.”

The text vine part of the art piece will be forged and refers to the past with “a more organic” handmade process.

Zhao will decide on the words that will be incorporated in the artwork as he gets input from residents and business owners during a series of upcoming events in the community. He said he plans to incorporate different languages as another way to connect the people of Pawtucket.

Pawtucket was cut in two with the construction of I-95, said Zhao, and his tapestry is meant to “connect everything together” again “in visual experience.”

The artwork will be illuminated with LED lights at night.

Zhao will work for much of the next year on planning, designing and fabricating the artwork, with actual installation planned for next August or September. Zhao has agreed to work with local artists as much as possible to produce the piece.

Original Article