If you take a walk across the North Florida Community College campus in Madison, Fla. you will find public art works that include a colorful mosaic mural depicting a forest scene complete with metal sculpture flowers planted in front at NFCC’s Hardee Center for the Arts, a metal sculptured sea turtle near the entrance of the college library and a metal sculpture inspired by Florida’s regional plants perched upon a hill near NFCC’s Van H. Priest Auditorium. Each piece was created with the help of area professional artists who worked directly with NFCC students on the projects.
The latest addition to NFCC’s impressive public art collection is a six-foot mosaic terrazzo table created by Tallahassee artist Ira Hill. Featuring vibrant colors and a koi pond theme, the table has been placed at an outdoor study and gathering area for students near NFCC’s Marshall W. Hamilton Library. The piece can function as a table or as a sitting area for students and campus visitors.
“We started a public art program in 2009 in order to create a unique experience for our students to work closely with a visiting artist and also to bring one permanent art work to campus per year,” said NFCC Art Director Lisa Thompson. “All of our projects include an environmental theme, whether it be through the imagery and content or demonstrated by the materials used. I am so pleased with Ira Hill’s work; it adds a wonderful pop of color and fits right into the relaxing environment complimented by the new rain garden area near the library. I think students will enjoy taking a moment to sit, relax and enjoy the scenery.”
The table is constructed of terrazzo, a decorative concrete made of cement, sand and glass, using 100% recycled glass. Hill spent around 60 hours making the table and started with the simple process of sorting and crushing the glass. The process then included creating the specific design, creating molds and polishing the terrazzo stone to highlight the glass aggregate. Terrazzo has a long history in building and is often associated with Art Deco Design.
"I enjoy using terrazzo as a creative medium for three reasons; colorfulness, durability, and resourcefulness," said Hill. "Knowing these pieces are created with recycled materials in a durable medium that will last over time is also very fulfilling.”
Hill specializes in cast metals, cast concrete, mold making and metal fabrication. While creating the piece for NFCC, he presented two student workshops at the College, teaching students about aluminum casting as well as plaster mold making.
Hill is originally from Kokomo, Indiana. He received a Bachelor of Fine Art in photography, printmaking and sculpture from The University of Alabama and a Master of Fine Art in sculpture from Florida State University. In 2013 he was awarded an Artist Fellowship with Salem Art Works in Salem, New York. He received the Ed Love Outdoor Sculpture Award from FSU in 2004 and in 2005 was FSU’s Master Craftsman Artist in Residence. His art has been featured on the University of Alabama’s Mars Field Journal and he a NICHE Award finalist (NICHE Magazine, Baltimore, Maryland) in 2010.
“I was happy to work with the members of NFCC in creating a piece that compliments the installation space and appropriate subject matter for their outdoor art collection."
Other area artists that have helped create NFCC’s public art collection include Linda Hall of Tallahassee (lindahallart.blogspot.com), Marshall Norris of Greenville (owner of Artistic Things by Marshall), Brad Cooley Jr. of Lamont (bronzebycooley.com), Bob Copper (www.coppermoonsculpture.com) and Mark Dickson of Tallahassee (markdicksonstudios.com).
For more information on Ira Hill and for more photos of his work, visit www.irahillsculpture.com. More information on North Florida Community College’s Art Department and public art pieces is available at www.nfcc.edu or by contacting Lisa Thompson at (850) 973-1642 or ThompsonL@nfcc.edu.