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Documentary, Conversations to Address Public Art Impact

June 22, 2024

Sculpture is the art of the intelligence. – Pablo Picasso

If sculpture is the art of the intelligence, then one South Dakota sculpture is genius. Power of Possibility, an outdoor sculpture displayed at the School of Business, Innovation and Leadership at Dakota Wesleyan University (DWU) in Mitchell, is the first public artwork in the state composed of translucent blue resin.

Created by artists Joan Benefiel and Jeremy Leichman of Brooklyn-based Figuration Studio, the sculpture is 10 feet (tall) by 5 feet (square). In September 2022, DWU’s Class of 1970 dedicated the sculpture “to all the Women of Wesleyan, who serve as the bedrock of our past, support us in the present, and encourage the possibilities for our futures.”

A film documenting the sculpture’s creation followed by a conversation about the impact of public art is scheduled for June 25 in Mitchell at DWU’s Sherman Center (1200 W. University Ave.) from 6:30-9:30 pm CT. A second showing and conversation is scheduled July 10 in Rapid City at the SDPB Studio (415 Main St.) from 6-9 pm MT. The project is jointly sponsored by the South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC) and the South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF).

Dale Lamphere, Artist Laureate of South Dakota, and Dr. Lesta Turchen, educator and historian, serve as the lead humanities scholars for the project and will moderate the public conversations with other selected artists and scholars at each premiere.

Project Director Anna Marie Thatcher, Managing Producer of Periaktos Productions and member of DWU’s Class of 1970, recently addressed the project’s goal.  

“I suggested to Dakota Wesleyan that we could produce a documentary on the importance of public art, the impact of public art in all of South Dakota, not just Dakota Wesleyan, but what part does that play in our towns? So, we received funding from the South Dakota Humanities Council and the South Dakota Community Foundation to produce Power of Possibility: The Impact of Public Art in South Dakota Communities.”

In addition to the film premieres and public discussions, South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) is set to air the documentary statewide in the fall, and the film’s production team is creating educational materials about public art to be made available to grade school, high school, and college teachers and students for inclusion with documentary showings.

For more information, contact the SDHC office at (605) 688-6113.

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