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New Albany moves forward with public art space downtown

Swamp Flower being repainted by Mia Kaplan Artist Mia Kaplan repainted her "Swamp Flower" sculpture, made of 2 inch steel plate, in an outdoor exposition at Ole Miss.

Downtown New Albany will soon be getting a new public art space. In March’s board of aldermen meeting, aldermen voted unanimously to lease the small piece of property across from the police station (currently displaying quilt squares) for a space to display sculpture. The Shands family agreed to lease the property to the city for $1 per year. The new “pocket park” will continue to display the quilt squares, but will also include benches and a platform for sculpture, which will be changed out every two years. A shade arbor may also be installed at some point.

The first sculpture to be displayed will be “Swamp Flower” by artist Mia Kaplan. Kaplan is an artist from southern Louisiana whose work has been displayed in New Orleans and across the South.

The “Swamp Flower” piece has been on display in the University of Mississippi Museum for the past two years as part of their rotating art display. Sam Creekmore, a New Albany-based Landscape Architect, learned of the sculpture’s upcoming availability and contacted the city to see if there was any interest to have it displayed here. After some discussions with City Tourism, Main Street, the UCDA and the Union County Heritage Museum, each party agreed to equally split the $2,200 cost of having the display located in New Albany for two years.

“Public art is a valuable resource for communities – bringing with it variety, energy, a sense of place and uniqueness. We hope that the location of this art in downtown New Albany will give residents and visitors one more reason to linger and enjoy our city’s unique energy and quality of life. And we’re grateful to Sam Creekmore for suggesting the idea and to the mayor and board aldermen, Main Street, UCDA and the museum for coming together to make this happen,” says Sean Johnson, the city’s tourism director.

Construction of the pad and lighting for the piece has already begun. Artist Mia Kaplan will visit New Albany for a presentation of her work at a date soon to be determined.

For more information on Mia Kaplan’s work, visit www.miakaplan.com.

A time-lapse video of the piece being painted can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEmfHoXE8Ns

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