By Jennifer Epperson/Executive Director
Sedona AZ (November 1, 2014) – Artist Nancy Robb Dunst is leaving town. Before you cheer or lament, she is coming back, after she trucks her newest public artwork to what is known as the “Copper Corridor”. A major historic branding project, “The Ore Cart Trail” is located in Central Arizona, marking the area while acknowledging the value of copper mining in Arizona’s history. It is a Public Art project funded by the Federal Department of Transportation to the Copper Corridor Economic Development Coalition, a multi town organization that celebrates their role in copper mining.
Repurposed ore carts form the central theme and raw materials for the artists. Each artist’s vision begins with a cart that is then enhanced, built upon, or decorated to create his or her particular installation. They will be seen at ten sites along Highways 77 and 177 between Oracle Junction and Superior.
Winkleman Arizona is the first proud recipient of Ms. Dunst’ latest exploration of ideas, materials and message called “A Penny for Your Thoughts”. Each installation created by the winning artists relate to the copper mining history and culture of the region, to the rich and diverse scenic attractions of the area such as the San Pedro and Gila Rivers, Aravaipa Canyon, or the numerous mountain ranges. The art installations will be installed at ten turnouts along the highway at towns and points of special interest, and each will include an informational kiosk at the site. The route will be an attractive and educational tourist alternative to I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson.
Regarding the installation, Dunst has a few tricks up her sleeve as always. If you have not had the pleasure of seeing one of her installations, the one pictured below was shown in Sedona at Hillside during December 2012.
With this piece, called “The American Dream….downsized!”, the artist asked hard questions about what we call home. During the clench of severe recession, as people lost their jobs and their homes, this installation challenged our view of what we really need to survive, emphasized the resilience of spirit, and begged to question a financial system that sold ever more risky loans on overpriced homes. Ms. Dunst does not shy away from controversy. Social and political issues are at its center of her practice.
The Winkelman installation is an inspired piece of art, history, and social engagement. In this case, the copper penny is the star of the show. Ms. Dunst says of her inspiration: “Although the copper penny is as American as apple pie, it may be on its way out because of the cost to make it. Originally it was 85% copper. Now it is only 2.5% copper and it costs $.0123 to produce. The penny has entered our culture, our language, and our music as evidenced by words like “Penny Ante”, “Penny Arcades”, a “penny for your thoughts,” and “Pennies from Heaven.” Who has not had a “Penny Jar” at some point in their lives?”
Ms Dunst says of the ubiquitous image, “Even today we see penny jars on business counters to help someone out; or penny cups at businesses to help make change. It is culturally one of our most common links. Although an American institution, some people say it has no value, and should terminated because it cost too much and no one uses them.” The artist disagrees and obviously shares Arizona’s endorsement of the value of the “Copper” and the metal that made it possible.
Using boulders from the landscape, Ms. Dunst designed a natural foundation for the installation. The mining cart sits atop the boulders, filled to overflowing with oversize pennies, each sporting the familiar Abe Lincoln portrait and the date 1976.
To create an active installation that engages the public, the artist asks for visitors to the site to vote: “A penny to keep it, or a nickel to let it go, a dime if they can’t decide. A little penny bank is built into the kiosk at the site, and the money collected will go toward its maintenance.”
Moving a piece of art made from an iron ore cart filled with giant pennies several hundred miles is not without its challenges. Transportation decisions were critical and quirky. After expert loading by J S Contractors, artist Nancy Robb Dunst drove the truck to the location and began the final installation process to be ready for the areas centennial in November.
“Its been a fun and challenging project in the works for seven years, says the artist, “I will be glad to see it in place and part of an exceptional effort by the community, who chose public art to communicate their vision.”
You can see this first completed installation around Christmas 2014, and celebrate the kickoff of the Copper Corridor and the artists along the trail.
- Department of Transportation
- Sky Engineering
- Copper Basin Railway Inc.
- Town of Winkelman