March 01, 2009

Kanapaha Gardens Gopher Tortoise Project

Gainesville Public Artist Sarah Hinds has proposed an interactive sculpture of the Florida native Gopher Tortoise, designed to have a forever home at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. The tortoise will be large enough that children will be welcome to sit inside the its domed shell. Children playing here will take information about habitat protection and ecology throughout their lives.

ABOUT: The Sculpture

Materials proposed include:
--a welded steel frame
--a lightweight concrete base
--recycled glass stagelight lenses
--custom glass paperweight eyes
--iridescent fused glass tiles
--hand cut slate stone
--fresco style multi-colored grout
--handmade clay tiles

The handmade clay tiles embedded into the mosaic tortoise shell will be created by children of the Gainesville community. During a series of artist-led workshops, local children will paint and glaze clay individual tortoise shell tiles. Together they will learn about gopher tortoise lifestyle, habitat, protection and preservation. By participating in this process, children will take pride in knowing that they have helped to create a piece of permanent beauty and art in their community.

Kanapaha Gardens

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a 62 acre facility developed and operated by the North Florida Botanical Society, a non-profit educational organization. Kanapaha’s newest garden is their Children’s garden, currently under construction. This new area will house our tortoise, along with features such as a hedge maze, wall of treasures, dynamic water garden, and more.

ABOUT: The Gopher Tortoise

The Gopher Tortoise is currently listed as a Threatened Species in Florida. The decline of the Gopher Tortoise is mainly attributed to habitat loss, forestry practices, road mortality and disease. Although the main feature of the sculpture at Kanapaha will be the artwork of the tortoise itself, this exhibit will include information describing the tortoise’s lifestyle, habitat and issues of concern.

ABOUT: The Artist

Sarah Hinds is a professional artist with a focus on hand blown glass, architectural installations, mixed media projects, and community involvement. Sarah is co-founder of Somewhere Glassworks, a full service glass art studio and artist retreat in Gainesville, Florida. Available classes include Glass Beadmaking, Advanced Glass Sculpture, Glass Fusing, and Furnace Blown Glass.

Sarah is the Art Teacher at Expressions Learning Arts Academy in Gainesville, Florida. Her love of teaching art to children has resulted in several community art projects, including a mural program with Keep Alachua County Beautiful and The Florida Museum of Natural History. These murals educated middle school children about coral reefs while creating permanent art in their community.

“As a teacher, I strive to create an expressive and nurturing environment. As an artist, I strive to create with a universal theme that is meaningful to the viewer. Integrating the community into public art installations does both.” -Sarah Hinds

How can you be a part of this community project?

Every donation of $25 will pay for a child to make a mosaic shell tile. Those who donate $125 or more will receive a commemorative photo of the finished tortoise with the children who helped make it. And those who donate $1000 or more will have the choice to add a name or short memorial to a plaque at the sculpture site.

Checks may be made out to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens with the words ‘Gopher Tortoise’ in the memo line. Mail checks to:

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
Gopher Tortoise Project
4700 S.W. 58th Drive
Gainesville, FL 32608

Donations may also be made via PayPal with ‘Gopher Tortoise’ in the notes. A link to the PayPal site is available on the project website and on the Kanapaha Gardens website.

Kanapaha Botanical Gardens is a non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

Kangaroo is excited to aid Sarah in seeking public funding for this project.