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Public Art Sculpture Coming to BC

A community united together, sharing its hopes and dreams, connected to and supporting one another. That’s the theme of “Bluefield Rising Together,” a public art project for and about the Greater Bluefield community on the campus of Bluefield College, March 16 through April 11, and featuring hundreds of ladders on loan from individuals, families, businesses, schools, churches and other organizations across the community.

Chris Shoemaker

February 18, 2014

A rendering of what the public art sculpture “Bluefield Rising Together” will look like once completed by artist Charlie Brouwer on the Bluefield College campus, March 16.


Artist Charlie Brouwer's "Rise Up Atlanta," a public art sculpture in Georgia that is similar to the project he'll complete in Bluefield.


Charlie Brouwer's "Rise Up Grand Rapids (MI)."


Brouwer's "Rise Up Wilmington (NC)."


One of many drawings by artist Charlie Brouwer to be on exhibit at Bluefield College February 21 through April 10.


Envisioned by artist Charlie Brouwer, “Bluefield Rising Together” will be a temporary community sculpture on the Bluefield College campus made from more than a hundred ladders. In fact, Brouwer will begin work on the sculpture Friday, March 14 at 9 a.m. with a grand opening scheduled for Sunday, March 16 at 5 p.m.



Located at the main entrance to Bluefield College on College Drive, the ladders will be joined together to form a temporary sculpture designed to represent the way the Greater Bluefield community is a collection of individual hopes and dreams that are connected and supportive of each other. For Brouwer, the whole process of participation in a common goal -- the borrowing and lending of tools and supplies to accomplish it -- is the art.


“This sculpture will be a celebration of what it means to be a community,” he said. “It will be a metaphor for the way successful communities work. The more parts of the community that are included, the number and the variety of ladders -- from broken to brand new, short step stools to long extension -- the more like acommunity and the more successful the art will be.”


The plan for “Bluefield Rising Together” is for the ladders to form two towers, representing the two Bluefields, connected by an archway through which viewers will be able to pass. The towers will also symbolize, like the school’s chapel steeple, the reaching for higher learning, understanding and enlightenment. The archway will represent community engagement and the connectedness of the two Bluefields -- separate, but connected and rising together.


“The two parts that will be joined remind me of the two Bluefields, as well as the mountain and valley geography of the area,” said Brouwer, who has completed nine other similar sculptures in the past. “The spire-like towers resemble the steeple of the chapel, but they also remind me of the reaching for knowledge, the higher learning that takes place at the college. The arched opening will invite visitors to walk around and through the ‘community’ and celebrate and feel a sense of accomplishing something together.”


The sculpture will stand near the main entrance to Bluefield College on College Drive in view of its library,administration building, chapel, and visual arts building. Brouwer said he chose the location for the sculpture because of its visibility and accessibility to both the college and the community. He said the location on College Drive is also ideal because of the connection to both Bluefields.


“College Drive goes right through and connects both communities,” said Brouwer, “and to have this project at the Bluefield College entrance signifies that the college wants to engage the surrounding community in an experience and a dialogue about what it means to be a community.”


Heavy-duty cable ties will hold the ladders together, and weatherproof Tyvek tags will be wired to each ladder identifying its lender. Each ladder and its donor will be recorded on a form and the lender will receive a copy.


“This project is mostly about the ladders, loaned by individuals, families, schools, churches, businesses, and organizations from all over the Greater Bluefield community,” said Brouwer. “They represent the way a community is made up of individual hopes and dreams connected to and supporting each other.”


Local residents, businesses, churches and other organizations are encouraged to drop off ladders on loan or donated to the project at BC’s Cox Visual Arts Building on the lower southwest portion of campus during one of two separate drop-off periods: February 24-28 or March 10-16. Ladder drop-off times for both sessions are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Ladders may also be delivered to the sculpture work site on College Drive near the main entrance to campus, Friday, March 14 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, March 15 from 9 a.m. to 5p.m., or Sunday, March 16 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Ladders for the sculpture may be step stools, long extension, or even creative hand-made ladders. They may be brand new, used, or even broken. Those that are donated to the project will go to Habitat for Humanity and the Appalachia Service Project once the sculpture is dismantled. Ladders that are loaned may be picked up April 13-18, from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday (April 13), 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (April 14, 16 and 18), or 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday (April 15 and 17).


“The ladders can be of all shapes and sizes, not wanting to exclude anyone,” said Brouwer. “It doesn’t matter if they are usable or broken, step stools, or ladders off of small toys. They can even be a children’s craft to get them involved in making a ladder and contributing, as well.”


In addition to the sculpture on campus, March 16 through April 11, Brouwer will present an exhibit of other works, titled “Now I Lay Me,” February 21 through April 10. Inspired by the simple child’s prayer “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” “Now I Lay Me” is a collection of drawings and wooded wall sculptures that will be on display in BC’s Art Gallery on the first floor of Lansdell Hall from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.


Funding for “Bluefield Rising Together” has been provided by the Janie Poteet Light Fund for Art Studies through the Community Foundation of the Virginias, Inc. and the Fannie Kate and Betty Gardener Bailey Fund. For more information, visit the project web site at Or, contact Walter Shroyer, chair of Bluefield College’s Department of Art and Design, by phone at 276-326-4558 or by email at , or Allison Forlines, director of BC’s Art Gallery, by phone at 304-888-4973 or by email at .





J. Perry Brake

I'd like to write a song about that.

Perry Brake 1973/74

Bill Ramsey 77

That is not art; that is an eyesore.

Rebecca Hall 86

Hmmm. Nice idea, but really looks like a hot mess. I'd be happy to be wrong about it, if it works out.

Bluefield College

Bill and Rebecca...we encourage you to look at similar ladder sculptures created by Brouwer (just added 03-04-14 to the web site promo article above). The sketch illustration with the article doesn't show well the beauty and creativity these public art sculptures possess like the images of those from the past. To view more, visit

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