By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
Lined along the Brazos River stretching from the Cameron Park Pecan Bottoms entrance to University Parks Drive, 28 animal sculptures have been commissioned from Arizona to be displayed here in Waco.
Fiona Bond, executive director of Creative Waco, a local arts agency for Waco and McLennan County, wanted to create a “root and branch” organization for the arts in Waco after moving here with her husband about five years ago.
Each sculpture represents local or Cameron Park Zoo animals. Creative Waco supports Waco as a cultural arts district. It organizes funding for the arts through county funding and individual supporters.
Betsy and Clifton Robinson, contributors to the arts and avid animal lovers, are behind the steer sculptures in front of the suspension bridges over the Brazos River. Betsy Robinson also founded Fuzzy Friends Rescue shelter. The couple approached Creative Waco with the idea of five or six animal sculpture installations, but expanded the project after receiving an overwhelming amount of support from local contributors.
Bond believes each animal sculpture has its own intention, rather telling a story or making a point.
“Public art creates spaces for people to tell their stories in other ways to the community,” Bond said. “You can tell stories through animals better than people, animals are great proxies for the things we admire about people… There is a purity of animals, they do exactly what they want to do. People are charged with intentionality where animals aren’t.”
Bond said public art is meant to start conversations and create questions. One sculpture, an elephant skeleton, located by the Pecan Bottoms entrance is meant to represent how animals are disappearing from our consciousness. The artist wanted to start conversation about our diminishing environment, and the animal species that are going along with it.
The installation is projected to be completed this spring, but many of the sculptures are already on display. Visitors can also experience the installation from a live tour on the Brazos River. Waco River Safari is planning on incorporating the installation into their tours with crib sheets for each of the sculptures present. There is also an upcoming website for the sculpture zoo during the spring semester where visitors will be able to find specifics of each piece, artist interviews and facts about the animals depicted.
Bond said she hopes that in the future Creative Waco can explore more temporary public art installations and build a new performing arts center downtown.