Artist Blessing Hancock creates innovative work for public spaces

Published in the January 20 – February 2, 2016 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Staff Report

Photo courtesy Gizmo Art Productions Artist Blessing Hancock and her team of installers from Gizmo Art Productions stand by the new “Encompass” abstract sculpture at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center.

Photo courtesy Gizmo Art Productions
Artist Blessing Hancock and her team of installers from Gizmo Art Productions stand by the new “Encompass” abstract sculpture at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center.

Downtown Morgan Hill is transforming into an art and architecture masterpiece. Various sculptures and murals have been installed throughout the city center to enhance the experience for visitors and residents. Among them is artist Blessing Hancock’s new abstract sculpture “Encompass” placed at the Monterey Road entrance to the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center.

Hancock has completed monumental sculpture projects throughout the world and has extensive experience working with city agencies, project teams and community groups. Morgan Hill Life asked her about her involvement in the emerging downtown art scene and her creation that incorporates bicycle wheels and LED lighting to entrance the public.

Please describe your personal interest in the arts and your education as an artist.

I find inspiration in creating a day-to-day encounter with artwork and I’m drawn to it as a tool for innovation and new experience. By using standard materials in unexpected ways, I create one-of-kind experiences. I own Skyrim Studio Inc, which focuses on site-specific sculpture and I utilize my bachelor in fine arts degree in sculpture and masters degree in landscape architecture to create innovative work for public spaces. My portfolio demonstrates the potential of light, shadow, color and form to transform space and I have completed monumental sculpture projects throughout the world.

Downtown Morgan Hill is going through a renaissance with plenty of construction and various art pieces designed for the Creative Placemaking program. Why did you get involved with submitting your idea for an art piece for the downtown?

The vibrancy of the project location in Morgan Hill and the opportunity to establish community connections are incredibly compelling. As a former landscape designer and community planner, I have an appreciation for the elements involved in the design of public spaces, and the considerations required to successfully integrate public art. I wanted to create a unique artwork that captures the optimism of downtown and which will enliven the area with both a day and nighttime presence. It’s exciting to be part of the downtown Morgan Hill renaissance.

You created “Encompass” as a unique piece. How might you describe this sculpture and the effect you wish viewers to have?

Encompass is an abstraction of Morgan Hill’s topographical location in Santa Clara Valley. The folded panels allude to the surrounding hillsides of the Pacific Coast and Diablo Mountain ranges, with the two curvilinear forms enclose the city between them. The sculpture is made up of bicycle wheels highlighting the communities cycling interests. LED lighting casts intricate shadows onto the surrounding hard-scape and visitors to the sculpture.

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Why in your opinion is public art an important part of “placemaking” in a community?

There is enormous potential for art that is skillfully integrated with the environment and I have seen numerous cities thrive from this artistic impetus. I view each sculpture as an opportunity to improve the public’s experience of a place and transform a site. When done successfully, public art can offer an engaging and distinctive opportunity that creates visual interest and adds to the character of a site. I congratulate Morgan Hill for taking steps to bring public art into the community.

How might you encourage young people who view your piece to appreciate public art such as your sculpture?

I would strongly encourage youth to create their own opinion of public art and its value within the community. Too often the creative opinions of young people are influenced before they have a chance to assess for themselves. The best thing art has to offer is a fresh perspective and this is an innate quality in young people. My advice would be to trust this instinct and let it guide your judgment; the most valuable lessons always come from thinking for yourself.

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi is the editor of Morgan Hill Life newspaper. If you have a story idea or an Around Town column item you want to tell him about, you can reach him at (408) 427-5865 or at editor@morganhilllife.com.
Robert Airoldi