Telling stories through art for generations to come

Telling stories through art for generations to come

Posted on May 01, 2013 by Ann Wykell

Editor's Note: Ann Wykell is the art consultant on Patriot Plaza, the ceremonial amphitheater at Sarasota National Cemetery. Ann will be guest blogging about the process to incorporate commissioned art at Patriot Plaza.

Four artists are creating original art for Patriot Plaza. Each  project is very different. Each, in its own way, will engage visitors and achieve the goal of Patriot Plaza – to inspire visitors to honor the service and sacrifice of Americans who have served and their families, and inspire pride and patriotism and embrace freedom.

Each artist began their individual creative process by studying the Art Plan posted on The Patterson Foundation website that defined the goals of art and explained the themes that were to be addressed. Artists need this kind of information to be able to design something that is specific to a site. There are many places related to the military that have some kind of art. Sometimes the art in these places seems interchangeable. For Patriot Plaza, we wanted familiar themes but original ways of expressing those ideas. So we had to explain to potential artists what our project is about in more detail.

The Art Plan states:  Patriot Plaza is being developed as a space where art can tell stories to future generations. There are multiple stories starting with the overarching idea of American freedoms protected and preserved by the military today, in the past and in the future. The primary focus for art for this project will be on the individuals who fulfill this mission and have served: Who are they?  What did they do?  What was the nature of their service? What shared values inspired their decision to serve their country? What effect did this have on them? Who are their families? What was their experience as families whose loved ones were in the military? What is their contribution?

The artists told us that the Art Plan information was extremely helpful and provided some direction for their imaginative creative process. Lead artist Larry Kirkland’s "Service, Support, Sacrifice" speaks directly to these themes through the pictures and words of the military and families. Ellen Driscoll’s mosaics include traditional symbols such as service awards and laurel leaves but her design is more general – encompassing all military and families through time.  Pablo Eduardo’s monumental eagles at the west entrance refer to the military’s role as guardian’s of our democratic freedom. Ann Hirsch’s eagles at the east entrance suggests the moment when young people leave their family and community to venture out on their behalf to serve their country.

For additional questions about the Patriot Plaza art process, Ann Wykell may be reached at

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