A Weaverville artist has begun the Pack Square Park installation of hundreds of clay stoneware tiles, including 400 brown and blue square ones created and signed by students in Buncombe County Schools.
The children’s tiles will accent the work of Kathy Triplett, who designed glazed bricks and large, intricate tiles that invite touch with their raised, curved, pitted surfaces and muted colors that take inspiration from the tan and pink coloring of the adjacent Buncombe County Courthouse and distinctive Asheville City Hall.
Triplett’s installation is the latest artistic touch coming to the new $20 million Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville. Other major artistic pieces to come include a stainless steel pergola over the stage where the tiles will be displayed, and a giant brass ring that will encircle granite boulders already in place on Pack Square. Asheville sculptor Hoss Haley is fabricating both pieces.
With the help of masons Ted Harper and James Owen, Triplett on Tuesday continued the meticulous work of installing the tiles. Triplett says is will take about three weeks to install the pieces.
“The inspiration for the tiles comes from the arch pattern at the top of City Hall,” Triplett says, pointing to the feathered architectural accent on the building. “I took the feather pattern and made it more organic” after being inspired by a poplar leaf.
The project with eighth-grade county school students included having the students research native plants, then a workshop in which Triplett showed the students how to make the tiles. Each tile includes the plant’s Latin name, as well as the students’ names. (A few Buncombe County commissioners and members of the Pack Square Conservancy, which is overseeing park construction, made tiles, too.)
“It’s an honor to have a piece in a public space,” says Triplett, who does work for both private and public commissions and sells pieces at Blue Spiral Gallery.
In other park news:
• Crews are installing bronze benches atop the recycled granite bases in the area in front of the Asheville Art Museum.
• Grading continues in advance of the installation of sod, which should come in the next few weeks.
• The Pack Square Conservancy recently lobbied state lawmakers in Raleigh in hopes of landing funding through the federal economic stimulus package.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor