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New art piece on Green Street moves with wind at Brenau
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Brenau University’s new art installation along Green Street beside the John W. Jacobs Jr. Building features the university's flame logo, which slowly rotates atop a post. - photo by Scott Rogers

A new sculpture erected this week along Green Street on the Brenau University campus moves with the wind.

Luminary 830 is the name of the piece created by Mike Roig, an artist based in Carrboro, N.C, whose website refers to him as a “Sculptor in Metals and Motion.” Roig and his wife, Clay Carmichael, installed the artwork Monday.

The sculpture was given to the university by an anonymous donor, according to Brenau spokesman David Morrison. The gift was facilitated through the Vision 2030 Public Art Committee and the North Georgia Community Foundation. It is located next to the John W. Jacobs Jr. Building on the Brenau campus.

“It’s designed to catch the wind and move with the wind,” Morrison said Tuesday afternoon. “It kind of paints itself with the reflected light and shadows as it spins. I was watching it spin (Monday) in a pretty brisk wind, and you get some nice light effects through the wind.

“Brenau’s motto is ‘Gold refined by fire,’ and in the center of our logo is the flame,” Morrison added. “So, it sort of symbolizes the Brenau flame. The donor said the Brenau campus is perfect because ‘Edison gave light to the world and Brenau gives light to the mind.’”

Roig said the person who commissioned the sculpture had seen another of his works in North Carolina that had “spun in a counter rotation.”

“I took my initial inspiration from the logo for Brenau University, which has kind of a flame shape to it and did a simplified version of kind of what I was seeing there within the confines of what I could make aerodynamically to actually move in the wind ...” he said. “Initially when I made that upper shape, I actually made it so it spun independently, but it spun in the same direction as the bottom shape. When I put it out here in the yard and put it in the wind, it was obvious that there was plenty of potential for that bottom shape to rotate without being counteracted by anything. I thought it would look better to have the top shape in counter rotation.”

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Brenau University's new spinning piece of art in front of the Jacobs building along Green Street.
By: Scott Rogers

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He said his wife did some research and the number 830 was based on numbers she had seen for students on campus “at one point anyway.”

“Luminary has the associations with light and the associations with flame, but it also has aspirational hope that ‘What you’re churning out there is a bunch of luminaries from that school,’” he said. “I hope all those budding young graduates who come out of there live up to that aspiration.”

Elizabeth Jacobs Higgins, executive director of Vision 2030, said she is excited about the new work of art in the community.

“I just think because it’s moving with the wind, it makes it so interesting,” said Higgins, whose father, John Wesley Jacobs Jr., is the person for whom the Jacobs building is named. “We’re just thrilled to have it in such a prominent place and a place that will get people excited about it and do what art is supposed to do, which is to help you live better through the senses of art and through your appreciation of art. It’s really fun.”

Brenau President Ed Schrader said in an email statement Tuesday that the new piece will fit nicely near the sculpture of Lucile the Golden Tiger, which was donated by Ike Belk in 2013.

“We are very grateful to the donor of this marvelous, innovative work of art for selecting the Brenau campus as the locale for sharing it with the public,” Schrader said. “The new piece will enhance that desire for people to engage with art. Indeed, the donor specified to Mike Roig that the Luminary 830 have ‘Instagramability,’ so individuals could share selfies and other photos through their social media networks. The Lucile sculpture has already become an artistic landmark in Gainesville and Hall County with both residents and visitors to the community stopping by to see it and photograph it. ”

Morrison said the university “is in the process of finalizing landscaping and setting for the piece.”

“It was a logical place for it to go, since we are redoing the plaza anyway,” Morrison said, adding that a dedication for Luminary 830 will be scheduled at a later late.

He added that the anonymous donor commissioned and purchased the sculpture and Brenau officials do not have an estimation of its value.

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