GOOD NEWS: FBCU and Odessa Arts dedicate a public art sculpture

More than 50 arts supporters and contributors to the project gathered Nov. 18 at the First Basin Credit Union Community Room Plaza to celebrate the unveiling of the “Hadley Cell” art sculpture designed and created by artists Jim Hirschfield and Sonja Ishii. The partnership with FBCU and Odessa Arts represents the first privately funded art installation in Odessa. (Courtesy picture)

In collaboration with Odessa Arts, First Basin Credit Union recently presented a new public art sculpture installed at its headquarters in Odessa.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for the “Hadley Cell” art sculpture, designed and created by North Carolina artists Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii, will go on public display and was first lit on Nov. 18.

The commissioned work that was awarded in 2019 was selected from more than 100 submissions from artists across the United States.

The Hadley Cell sculpture consists of a 35-foot vertical column containing five graceful polyhedra, or cells, spanning 8 feet at their widest point. The symbol of five stacked cells mimics a wind column known as The Hadley Cell named after George Hadley. The Hadley Cell is a tropical atmospheric circulation on a global scale that features air rising near the equator, flowing poleward at a height of 10 to 15 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Earth, descending into the subtropics, then returning toward the equator near the surface. Hadley cells exist on either side of the equator. Each cell circles the globe in latitude and acts to carry energy from the equator to approximately the 30th latitude. At tropical latitudes (30° – 35°), the formerly warmed air cools and then sinks. The research revealed that Odessa, Texas is located at 31.8457° N and 102.3676° W in the area otherwise known as the horse’s latitudes.

The column changes from green which imitates shrubs at ground level to blue intended to match the sky of Odessa, one noticeably sees through the columns more ephemeral flat surfaces, embodying the sensation of the wind. Viewers can hear a relaxing hum of wind moving gracefully through the stainless steel wire panels purposely used to lend a transparent quality to the artwork. The sheer mesh exists to further enhance the soothing presence of the ever-moving West Texas wind.

Hirschfield and Ishii worked as a team for three decades, and as a team they created a number of major public works of art.

Hirschfield teaches sculpture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he served as chair of the art department for seven years. He has received a number of significant grants and scholarships from public and private foundations, including awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Graham Foundation, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Art Matters and from the Rockefeller Foundation. . He has also exhibited nationally. Jim has a long-standing interest in public art and was a member of the Public Art Network Advisory Board for six years. He is also the author or co-author of five public art master plans.

Sonya Ishii is an artist who, after studying art and then architecture, began working as an artist on one of the very first collaborative transit projects in Seattle, Washington. She has also received numerous awards, including two North Carolina Artist Fellowships. Together Jim and Sonya have created a variety of public art projects ranging from freestanding sculpture to sculptural environments. Together they have completed over 50 public art commissions across the United States and Canada that span from Seattle Washington to Fort Lauderdale Florida, and from Orono, Maine to Phoenix, Arizona, including five projects distinct in the great state of Texas.

Mildred D. Field