Included in the Circle
Two common themes running through the community's ideas that are reflected in this gate are 1) links or interconnnections and 2) circles. The linked circle pattern in the gate represents the interconnected and interdependent nature of a family, a community, a nation, or an ecosystem, each of which is really nothing more than a network of relationships. In this network, each connection, however small, is an integral part of the whole.
The title of this piece refers not to the gate itself but to the plain wooden door visible behind it. This inner door is not easy to see at first (and probably is not visible on your monitor). A key of interlaced circles is offered to the right of the gate. The key to accessing the inner door is the recognition that we are all connected, a notion made clear by the community's ideas.
Returning to Old Ideas
The idea that everything and everyone are interconnected, despite the illusion that each part is separate, is an ancient concept eloquently restated by one of our most respected minds, Albert Einstein:
The Woman of Samaria, depicted in The Light Within, was sculpted circa 1857 by William Henry Rinehart, who was born not far from Community Bridge. Rinehart's only biblical work, this sculpture depicts the woman of Samaria who met Jesus at a well. She offered him a drink and he offered her what he called 'living water.' For our purpose, what is significant about Rinehart's theme is that Jesus and that Samaritan woman should never have been talking to each other. They were enemies by both race and religion. She was considered vastly inferior by both her gender and her reputation (she had had more than one husband and was living with a man she was not married to). And yet at that well - which is a common resource, towns grow up around water sources - these two people found some common ground. And that is what this project is about, finding and illuminating common ground.
This part of the bridge celebrates the thought found throughout many of the community's ideas that shared resources such as well water -- and the "living water" of our various spiritual and artistic endeavors -- become meeting places, where superficial differences are irrelevant. Our common humanity transcends all such distinctions.
During his meteoric career, Rinehart made it a practice to assist struggling young artists, and he left his fortune to "the promotion of interest in and cultivation of taste for art," a goal shared by The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center , located across from The Light Within. It has been written that "beauty first entered American sculpture with Rinehart," and he is still considered one of America's finest neoclassic sculptors.
During the Bridge Builders Outreach one individual, Robert Snoots, suggested a well as his symbol because communities grew around water sources and wells "became a meeting place for women coming to fill their jugs or pitchers. A good bit of chatting probably took place here." Community Bridge spans the creek that was the birthplace for the city in which it is found.
"Everything the power of the world does is done in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nests in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same, and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves."
- Black Elk, Sioux
In designing this feature, Cochran combined the ideas of more than a hundred people, most of whom suggested something living for community, such as grapevines, a fountain, water, flowers, doves, dogwood blossoms, oak leaves, black-eyed susans, lilies, honeysuckle, water, watercress, peepers, pine needles, elm leaves, ferns, ginkgo leaves, grasses, wheat, grapes, apples, beans, wildflowers, pomegranates, ears of corn and other products of the earth.
Humanity's Life Line
This is a circle of life, representing our ties with other forms of life, the larger community, the biosphere that sustains us. Water was suggested by someone because it connects all living things. One of humankind's greatest insights of the twentieth century has come from ecology, and it is the idea of relatedness, the recognition that everything we do affects all of life, and that all of life is our support system. We are not separate from life but interconnected and interdependent in ways we are just beginning to realize. The fruits of our labor and imagination, such as this bridge, are meaningless without the fruits of the earth which support our existance.
A hummingbird, a mouse, a spring peeper, doves: these small animals that were suggested by the community appear here (although some are invisible on your monitor). Each is part of the circle. Notice the circle motif repeated in the wreath, the bowl, the grapevine, the ivy that sweeps around the arch above, and in the carvings to the left, the bird's nest, eggs, the nautilus shell, and the rope showing how the parts intertwine. The last two ideas, the nautilus shell and rope were suggested by visitors to the web site. The Internet has become a metaphor for the connections that link us all.
One of the most famous existing anamorphic projections was painted on the ceiling of the Church of the Gesú, in Rome, Italy, in the late 1600s. The optimum viewing point is marked with an X on the floor there. For Archangel, the X on the floor will be inside The Delaplaine Visual Arts Center gallery near the window from which the photo below was taken. The entrance to the Delaplaine Center is located behind the viewer as they stand in front of this image. The model for the image was a ten year old girl who loves the bridge, was noticed while visiting it, and has now become a part of it.
The word anamorphosis comes from the Greek word "ana," meaning change, and "morphe," meaning shape, and implies a transformation the viewer him or herself effects by shifting his or her own perspective. About Archangel, the artist said,
"Where we stand determines what we see. A shift in perspective is what the bridge project is all about. Exploring Community Bridge, with all the ideas from thousands of people, is like climbing a mountain. It provides a new perspective on the human condition.
To be human is to feel alone in the universe. Everyone seeks to connect with others, everyone tries to connect, almost making many more connections, or almost trying. There can sometimes be a sense of frustration and even despair if you feel you are the only one who is really trying. Community Bridge shows that everyone values connection as much as we do. How easily paint can fool the eye is a metaphor for how easily we are fooled by surface differences in people like attitude, race, language, gender, religion, the list is endless. These apparent differences lock us into stereotypes of who we can or should connect with.
Exploring Community Bridge is like climbing a mountain, gaining a new perspective. Where are our hearts? Why not put them on the mountain? And see that everyone values connection just as much as we do. We always have a choice to find a bridge, build a bridge, walk across a bridge."