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The Seaside Sculpture Park  

When Seaside Sculpture Park first opened in Jacksonville Beach in the summer of 2016, it was the start of what has become a great public art program that has now spread to other communities.  Its success has sparked interest in other neighborhoods that realize that large sculptures can help define and “center” a neighborhood, offering a place for fellowship and fun. Professor Jenny Hagar and her students have placed more than 30 large-scale outdoor sculptures in Jacksonville—at the Beach, in Springfield, and on Amelia Island. Springfield calls it a “Museum Without Walls.” 

 

THE OPENING OF THE PARK

That first warm summer morning, UNF’s President, John Delaney and Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham both spoke to highlight the importance of this new partnership between UNF’s Department of Art and Design and MountainStar Capital and the Lazzara family.  MountainStar Capital donated the land and under the guidance of Dr. Jenny Hager, students designed five large scale student sculptures.

 

WHY PUBLIC ART MATTERS

The Sculpture Park, located in a commercial area of Jacksonville Beach, adds artistic creativity to the beauty of a beach neighborhood. Contemporary sculpture is interdisciplinary in nature; materials and process follow concept. Faculty teach students from initial concept through fruition. Students integrate technical and conceptual skill to create work that is engaging and well-crafted. Passionate, hard-working students create juried art that inspires the community and brings vibrancy to neighborhoods.

 

RECIPROCITY AT ITS BEST

The idea for the project inspired Councilwoman Christine Hoffman to spearhead a change in zoning to make SSP possible; this was important public policy as it changed land usage, which had formerly prevented private parks. This is a reciprocal relationship because without UNF’s sculpture program and the funding from the Lazarra family, Jacksonville Beach would not have this remarkable park. This project is a model for what UNF and local neighborhoods have tried to do, in terms of creating sculpture parks in Jacksonville by means of public-private partnerships.

 

IMPACT ON STUDENTS

It is rare that undergraduates get this experience. For several years now additional students have the opportunity to work in metal, crafting huge sculptures. Sculptor student Oliva Warro said it is “very empowering to build something bigger than you are. She created a “Jumbo Shrimp”—honoring the Shrimp Festival on Amelia Island and Jacksonville’s baseball team. Students are going to graduate school with paid scholarships and working within the field of art post-graduation.