The long-awaited inaugural work in Saint John’s University’s new Jon Hassler Sculpture Garden will have its official blessing and dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. on Friday, October 22 between the Alcuin Library and the Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons.
Kura: Prophetic Messenger – produced by Richard Bresnahan, artist in residence and founder of The Saint John’s Pottery – was installed in the summer of 2020 and ended in September of the same year, but a ceremony could not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday’s blessing and dedication will be led by Abbot of Saint John Abbey, John Klassen, OSB, and University of Saint John’s Transitional President, Dr. James Mullen.
âThis blessing and ceremony is very important on the one hand to thank the donors who helped make this project possible,â said Steven Lemke, Associate Director and Environmental Artist in Residence at The Saint John’s Pottery.
âBut it’s also open to the public. This is important because the sculpture was not made for one person. It was designed for the whole community.
The delay caused by the pandemic allowed the production of a companion book by Bresnahan and his collaborators describing how the project unfolded.
“The basis of the book must be the accompanying piece of this sculpture,” Bresnahan told the Saint-Jean Magazine in its latest edition. “It’s the story of the evolution of how design and ideas came together, how the pieces of sculpture came together.”
Five major pieces weighing a total of 14,000 pounds form the base of the sculpture, which features a 4,800 pound granite base. This tile was removed from the Alcuin library when it was connected to the adjacent Learning Commons. Many materials have been reused from other iconic structures on the SJU campus.
Word Kura comes from the Japanese term for warehouse, which was historically used to protect the food supply for future use.
In the center of the circle, stainless steel Kura Hanging from the center of the sculpture is a handmade roll of the Rule of St. Benedict assembled by local artist Mary Bruno with a salvaged redwood scroll and a display designed by local craftsman Jeff Thompson.
Surrounding the scroll are 12 large pottery vessels containing 178 small jars filled with rare and endangered heirloom seed species from around the world, some of which have genetics that are over 1,500 years old.
âSo much has been invested in this project,â said Lemke. âIn many ways, this is truly the culmination of everything Richard has done here at Saint John’s Pottery since 1979. At the same time, it offers a bold vision of environmental arts education for future generations.