RIO GRANDE — University of Rio Grande Professor of Art Kevin Lyles was recently selected to design a sculpture for the Ohio Agriculture Research and Development Center in Wooster.
Lyles’s finished piece, “The Fruit of Inquiry,” was dedicated during a ceremony Sept. 16 at the center. Lyles said he is excited to see the sculpture on display.
“This project was created under the oversight of the Ohio Arts Council. They were looking for a sculptor to create a piece for the OARDC, and I applied for the opportunity because sculpting is my background training,” Lyles said. “I think as a faculty member, it is important to set an example for your students by continuing to work in your field.”
During the dedication, Dr. Michelle Johnston, president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, said she was extremely proud of Lyles and his dedication to promoting the arts.
“I had the privilege to attend the dedication and share a few comments about one of our exemplary faculty members. Professor Lyles’ talent continues to garner national attention and his work and dedication showcase the quality of his department and the faculty of Rio Grande,” Johnston said.
Lyles’ piece is a tribute to the facility’s agricultural research. He said he included bronze castings into his piece to symbolize a small portion of the research at the OARDC.
“While thinking about this project, I realized it is going to be our youth who really benefit from the research they do at the OARDC,” Lyles said. “They research everything from food-borne illnesses and genetics to discovering new plants and cancer treatments. They do amazing work that will have a world impact.”
The need for the piece came from requirements by Ohio’s 1990 Percent for Art Law, stating construction projects estimating at least four million dollars must spend at least one percent of funding on art.
“The original facility was demolished by a tornado six years ago, so they have been working to rebuild,” Lyles said. “The funding fell under the Percent for Art Law, so they decided on a sculpture for the property. This law is such a great way to support the arts, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work on this project.”
Lyles said because the organization’s research will service youth, he wanted to get his students involved in the project.
“I’m thankful to the students who helped me complete this very large piece. It was a big project and I’m glad they had the opportunity to see what goes on as a professional sculptor,” Lyles said. “It’s awesome to have the sculpture in the courtyard and know this is something I worked on with my students. It’s really an honor.”
The stainless steel sculpture is 20 feet tall, 25 feet long and includes 30,000 pounds of stone. To see more of Professor Lyles’ artwork, visit www.kevinlyles.com.