56 new statues across six Elkhart County communities celebrate everyday life

A new installation of statues in Elkhart County celebrates everyday life. // WSBT 22 photo

A one-of-a-kind art exhibit kicked off Tuesday in Elkhart County. Only it’s not set up in one building.

It is outdoor art displayed in six different cities, and unlike most art you are encouraged to get close to touch it.

The county-wide public art exhibit was unveiled Tuesday morning on the lawn of the Goshen Courthouse. It’s made up of 56, realistic, life-size sculptures designed by artist Seward Johnson.

They were installed all over Elkhart County, some in Goshen, some in Elkhart, as well as Middelbury, Nappanee, Bristol and Wakarusa.

“They are people sitting on benches and playing, and a lot of man-in-the-street type of activities because this artist, Seward Johnson, celebrates that,” said organizer Paula Stoeke. “He celebrates our everyday lives, and he celebrates how we live."

She says folks from around the area could make a day of visiting the six cities where the art is located.

“You should treat this show like a treasure hunt. You can get a walking tour map and go through and check off exactly what you have seen and what you haven't seen, and by the end of the summer, by October, we hope everybody has seen all 56," Stoeke said.

Brian Byrn, curator of the Midwest Art Museum in Elkhart, is the curator for this exhibit.

"These are not precious statuary. They are made to be interactive, to be touched, to stand next to it, to have a photo op taken,” Byrn said. “You can walk on the base. I hope its feels accessible."

Organizers say the exhibit is a great way for the public in all six communities to get better acquainted with art as well as serve as a draw to bring in people from outside the area.

“Getting people who live in each of our cities and towns to visit the cities and towns that are near them and within our region, people from South Bend, to come over to Elkhart, come over to Goshen,” said Diana Lawson of the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

The public art event is in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Quilt Garden displays, which are all near the sculptures.

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