Wicked Local Needham, September 14, 2015. Emma R. Murphy
The grey skies held out long enough on Sept. 10 for the outdoor dedication of the Own Your Peace Sculpture newly installed at Needham High School. The dedication marked the culmination of months of work and collaboration within the Needham community.
Dr. Beth Pinals, President of the Own Your Peace Board of Directors, Rep. Denise Garlick and artist Ted Clausen were among the array of speakers who discussed the sculpture’s importance.
“It is a strong and palpable symbol of a community that is strong and passionate and caring,” said Garlick.
Standing 7 feet tall at its highest point, the reflective steel sculpture is intended to inspire community support and mental wellbeing.
While the sleek reflective panels are eye-catching, the focus of the piece is the words that swirl and swoop across them.
Words are a hallmark of Clausen’s work, and the quotes on the sculpture come directly from past and current Needham community members.
The 65 quotes are the result of collaboration between Clausen and Needham students who gathered the quotes through interviews with community members, and explorations into Needham’s archives.
The purpose of the quotes is to provide tools for dealing with challenge and finding emotional wellbeing.
Clausen intended for the sculpture to be interactive. He had the words bend and wind so that spectators would be forced to walk inside and around the sculpture.
“I wanted to slow you down,” said Clausen.
As viewers walk through the sculpture and read the quotes, they will see their own reflection.
The team behind the Own Your Peace initiative hopes that the reflective nature of the quotes will cause viewers to consider their own mental wellbeing.
Own Your Peace evolved from a club run by high school students, to a school-wide speak out event where students share stories of struggle, success and support.
The sculpture marks the group’s efforts to extend this program to the community.
“It’s something that Needham should be proud of,” said Superintendent Dan Gutekanst. “This sculpture says that we don’t do this alone.”
Tom Denton, director of Guidance at the high school credited Pinals as the force behind the project.
“Without her commitment and drive we wouldn’t be here,” he said.
The community bond was evident in the group that gathered despite the damp weather.
Students, families, town officials, clergy and the like stood clustered together as they listened to the speakers.
According to Clausen, the sculpture is the first of its kind in its intention to promote emotional health and community wellness.
“I’m honored beyond words,” said Clausen in addressing the crowd. “That you allowed me to walk with you and make this rather remarkable thing happen.”
Although the dedication marked the final step for creating the sculpture, the initiative could be spreading beyond Needham.