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UNF's Seaside Sculpture Park Brings More Art To Jacksonville Beach

Sarah De Nicolais
Diana Shepherd (from left), Emily Pinnell, Gillian Harper, Mary Ratliff, David Peters

Jacksonville Beach is home to the University of North Florida’s new Seaside Sculpture Park. The student sculptors cut through a metal ribbon with a blow torch Monday morning to unveil their artwork to the public.

Placed on 1st Street South — between 4th Street South and 5th Street South — the park features five unique sculptures designed by UNF seniors.  It was created to provide student artists with real world experience while bringing more art to the community.

The park sits on land donated by MountainStar Capital for a year. MountainStar and the Lazzara Family Foundation donated $50,000 toward the project.

Featured at the park is Mary Ratliff’s “Symbiosis,” Emily Pinnell’s “Still Swimming,” “Ongoing Life” by Gillian Harper, “Wild Bird” by Diana Shepherd and “Ode to Franklin County” by David Peters.

“Jacksonville Beach is home and will forever be home,” Peters said, “and I have a permanent piece to show for that.”

Eleven students submitted models of their sculptures to a panel of judges. The five winners created their vision to scale and were installed at the park, where they will be on display for a year.

Professors Jenny Hager and Lance Vickery oversaw the project from start to finish. Hager said the park turned out better than she’d ever imagined.  

“I just hope more people do stuff like this to support the arts more,” Vickery said. “You can just take a look around and see what it’s done to the community. I think it’s beautiful.”