Would you like to design a large, monumental steel sculpture that symbolizes peace, justice and unity for a park devoted to peace?

In Muskegon, Michigan, USA, near Lake Michigan, the Baha’is own a forested piece of land about a city block in size, with a meditation garden and a large open grassy area. Called the Peace Park, the Baha’i community maintains the land and protects its future. In the early part of the 20th Century, Abdu’l-Baha himself asked the Baha’is in the area to set aside the original plot of land for a future Baha’i House of Worship.

Until that House of Worship is built, the Baha’is want to dedicate the open, grassy area of the park to a significant art installation that expresses the themes of peace, justice, brotherhood and unity—and you’re invited to take part in this unique process.

The Baha’i Peace Park Committee  has just announced an international art competition, for a new sculpture that will stand in the park and express themes related to the Baha’i principles of peace, justice and unity.

The international competition opened in January, and will close on July 1, 2017. Announcement of the winning entry will be July 31, 2017. Erection of the sculpture is planned to occur before the bicentennial celebration of the birth of Baha’u’llah, which happens on October 22, 2017. The competition is open to everybody, with no entry fee or requirements. Designs should endeavor to reflect, to the best of the artist’s ability, the concept of art as worship:

…in this wonderful new age, art is worship. The more thou strivest to perfect it, the closer wilt thou come to God. What bestowal could be greater than this, that one’s art should be even as the act of worshipping the Lord? That is to say, when thy fingers grasp the paintbrush, it is as if thou wert at prayer in the Temple. – Abdu’l-Baha, from a tablet to an individual Baha’i.

Here are the details of the competition:

  1. The base of the art object will be made from a piece of steel 5/8″ thick and 5 feet by 10 feet rectangular as a starting piece. The sculpture that will stand on the steel base will also be made of steel.
  2. The base will have welded flanges on its sides, and will be bolted to threaded studs that protrude 6-8 inches above the concrete pad that will stabilize and support the entire work of art.
  3. The theme of the art piece should be “Peace”, “Brotherhood”, “Unity”, or “Justice”.
  4. The steel for this installation is being sold at cost by a source who has the capacity to plasma cut virtually any shape or pattern into the steel based on a digital rendering.
  5. Submissions must be in the form of a digital image or digital picture of a scale model. Its borders must be distinct.
  6. The final piece may be either positive space, as in a silhouette; negative space as with a cut void; or both.
  7. It is hoped that the art will be configured so that it does not lend itself to people hiding behind it, so enough material needs to be removed from the steel to strategically disallow this.
  8. It is hoped that the design does not tempt people to use it as recreational equipment or climb on it.
  9. The intention is to make this monumental steel sculpture so simple and recognizable that cars driving by at 35 miles per hour can see it and not struggle to understand its intent.
  10. The art is hoped to be a “silent teacher” that easily evokes agreement, avoids abrasive controversy, and is dignified.
  11. The competition will be unlimited in nature, international, not confined to any nationality, religion, creed, or culture.

Submissions will be evaluated by the Baha’i Peace Park Committee, and will be reviewed additionally by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States or a committee assigned by them. Upon submission, the artist relinquishes rights to that particular design, while the committee guarantees that the artist will be recognized by name for their creation. All submissions must be a high resolution photo of a scale model, or digital art. The actual full-size rendering of the art will be carried out locally.

The winning submission will be announced on July 31, 2017 and will be displayed here at BahaiTeachings.org and elsewhere on the web following its selection.

Send your design submissions to Peace Park Committee chairman Gary Cools at garycools7411@gmail.com—and good luck!

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

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