Client: Doral Glades Nature Center
Location: Gainesville, FL, United States
Completion date: 2019
Artwork budget: $20,000
Leslie Tharp Designs LLC
Mary Anna Murphy
MAM Exhibit Design
“Explore” is a 16 foot weight, 9 foot tall curving wall, composed of laser cut metal imagery. The overlapping images of mangrove trees, native grasses, large mammals, birds, and reptiles describe the very lively environment of the Florida Everglades. This piece was designed to entice viewers to spend time exploring the hidden imagery of the complex scenes upon their entrance into the Nature Museum. The perspective changes when the piece is viewed from the front or back, describing a different layering of swamp lands, cypress hammocks, and salt water coast lines, as well as the abundant life they hold.
In addition to supporting the museum’s mission to foster empathy and education for the natural environment of the Florida Everglades, this piece is also a showcase of citizen participation. The City of Doral invited Leslie Tharp and her team of fellow metal artists to hold a weekend-long blacksmithing workshops for more than 50 participants. The students worked in small classes and experienced the joys of blacksmithing for the first time, while creating a special leaf to add to the sculpture. The fabulous leaves are sprinkled all along the top of the piece and are a reminder of the collaborations required to preserve the health and beauty in the places we live.
The piece's primary focus was as a center piece to be eye catching upon entrance into the space. The secondary purpose was it's ability to educate the visitors of local flora and fauna.