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Sculpture finds new home, young audience to inspire

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A sculpture that once hung on an upstairs wall of the former Commons downtown has emerged from storage to find a new home at Central Middle School.

Now, hundreds of students pass the multicolored cylinders before, between and after classes five days a week, enjoying what the late local artist Catherine Burris created in 1994.

“She would be very honored if she were here,” said Burris’ daughter, Emily Hartmann. “Mom wanted to inspire people to think differently.”

Burris, whose artwork includes the murals at the Jackson Place condominiums and the downtown Dairy Queen, created her “Transition” sculpture during a time of personal transition, when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer, Hartmann said.

If you go

People who want to see the artwork by Catherine Burris at Central Middle School should call the school office at 376-4286 to arrange a visit.

Central Middle School is at 725 Seventh St.

The sculpture hung on a wall of the Columbus Area Arts Council’s office in the old Commons until the building was demolished in 2008 in favor of a new structure. The Arts Council arranged to relocate the sculpture to Central Middle School; however, the artwork went into storage for several years while officials decided where to put it.

Central Principal Randy Gratz said the sculpture was hung only about a month ago between the first and second floors of the school’s northern stairwell, where it will stay.

Gratz said he is thrilled to have it there because of its high-traffic visibility and thought-provoking effect on students.

Tiffany Collins, a seventh-grader at Central, said she loves that the colors beautifully flow together. She interpreted it as meaning that people of any age can achieve their dreams.

Audrey Tian, also a seventh-grader, said the artwork to her represents the freedom children have to be whatever they want.

Hartmann said she likes the location because her mother was a former teacher who dedicated much of her life to children.

A framed letter from Burris hints at what Burris had in mind when she created the sculpture, which consists of canvas-wrapped cylinders lined up diagonally on the stairwell wall.

She writes that she wanted to give a “visual voice to the emotions artists feel as they go about their creative endeavors.”

“Artists are connected by the common bonds of pursuit, love, struggle, triumphs, failures,” she writes. “But, in the end — in reality — we each are alone. We are each driven by whatever spiritual, physical or emotional forces are within.

“We are doing and becoming the best that we can be.”

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