LINKS
2017-07-13 / Front Page

Sculptor Begins Final Year Of Downtown Rapid City Project

STORY AND PHOTOS BY JIM KENT
LCT CORRESPONDENT


Images related to the Lakota culture can be seen throughout the “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture. Images related to the Lakota culture can be seen throughout the “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture. RAPID CITY – It’s an oppressively hot day in the Black Hills as Masayuki “Yuki” Nagase sits beside me at Main Street Square to discuss his work on “Passage of Wind and Water”.

The Berkley-based Japanese sculptor has been working on the largest privately-funded public art project in the country since 2013.

“It’s a long way to go…5 years,” admits Nagase. “But now it seems like it went by in a flash.”

The internationally known sculptor was chosen for the project after a worldwide search resulted in a field of 88 artists who applied to create a massive work of art at Rapid City’s Main Street Square that would reflect the natural flora and fauna of Badlands and Black Hills along with expressing both areas’ history, culture and landscape.


Above: Masayuki Nagase has returned to Rapid City to complete his “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture – the largest privately-funded public art project in the country; first begun in 2013 Above: Masayuki Nagase has returned to Rapid City to complete his “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture – the largest privately-funded public art project in the country; first begun in 2013 “Passage of Wind and Water” consists of sculpted images placed upon 21 granite stones at Main Street Square. Occupying the South and West sides of what has become a community gathering place for area residents, one group of stones is called the “Badlands Tapestry Garden”, while the second group is the “Black Hills Tapestry Garden”.

“The Badlands Tapestry Garden structures are a stone composition that has the theme of wind,” explains Nagase. “So, an abstract pattern of wind and grasses flowing across a stone on the Badlands exterior. Some abstract pattern of wind also goes through the exterior of the Black Hills Tapestry Garden. And each garden has interior compositions that I developed with some movement of nature. With water in the Black Hills Tapestry Garden…with nature and humans across time. And the Badlands Tapestry Garden interior also shows movement of nature…the wind. But it also shows the geological past and humans and cultural history.”


Right: The last stone to be carved in the “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture reflects the blending of wind and water – themes that have been constant throughout the project. Right: The last stone to be carved in the “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture reflects the blending of wind and water – themes that have been constant throughout the project. Nagase spent considerable time researching the geological and cultural history of both areas, visited the Badlands and Black Hills extensively for inspiration and held public meetings in order to gain an understanding of what Native and non-Native residents wanted to see reflected in the sculpture.

Although the project is located in Rapid City – where the population is predominantly non-Native, Nagase felt it was imperative to include the culture of the area’s original inhabitants in his work.

“Through these years working here I have been acquainted with Native people and I’ve read a lot about the Native culture,” Nagase comments. “So, naturally, I’ve had a lot of inspiration.”

Primary among those points of inspiration are images of the buffalo and of the horse. One stone that Nagase worked on last year, for example, involved the history of the horse and the Lakota people.

“That is a very important factor to change their life in the past,” the sculptor explains. “That’s one thing that’s strongly connected to Lakota culture.”

Only 2 surfaces remain to be sculpted before the “Passage of Wind and Water” project is completed this Fall: a granite stone set apart from the Badlands and Black Hills Tapestry Gardens and the second of 2 granite spires at the entrance to Main Street Square.

As with its double, the spire will represent all beings living in balance while the stone will reflect the blending of wind and water.

“That is actually a very special and symbolic stone,” observes Nagase.

With just a few months remaining in what the sculptor concedes has been his most ambitious project, Nagase notes that just because his work at Main Street Square will be finished doesn’t mean that the “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture is complete.

“It’s important for people to not think that this is finished,” Nagase comments. “It’s a starting point to create something new for the community. The goal of this project is for many artists to come together and give form to their creative energy. And I think that progress will happen…from now.”

The “Passage of Wind and Water” sculpture project has already been the catalyst for many community art projects over the course of its creation, including Native American art and music gatherings.

Masayuki Nagase is pleased by that Native involvement in the project and hopes members of that community will continue to do “great things” alongside his 21 sculpted stones.

Jim Kent can be reached at kentvfte@gwtc.net

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