“Hello, my name is Ralph Helmick. I’m a sculptor concentrating in public art, and I work in Newton, Massachusetts, which is just outside of Boston. I got started in public art almost 30 years ago. I completed my first piece in 1983, and Leatherlips for Dublin, Ohio was something I created with local collaborators in 1990. Scioto Park was an exceptionally promising setting particularly because of its idiosyncrasies with respect to siting the sculpture, that is, it’s a big long slope, the base of which is the Scioto River. So automatically it invited a different kind of formal solution than a sculpture in a most parks, which would be a little ground plane. What struck me about Scioto Park, and Dublin in general, was history. Dublin’s not terribly dissimilar from the suburb I grew up in, in upstate New York. Every place has their own special character, but I think a lot of post-World War II suburbs are people living comfortably, but I also think there tends to be a hunger for deeper roots or a more nuanced understanding of the land on which they live because suburban developments like the one I grew up in, and it can have a sameness. I think that’s only accelerated in the 20-plus years since Leatherlips went in. So, I think what was admirable about Dublin is that they were looking to not just make a public art collection or just distinguish themselves culturally, but I think there was this, at least I intuited, there was a sense of hunger for something deeper. And so that was part of what provoked the research into local history and, most notably, Shateyoranyah, better known as Leatherlips.”
To learn more about Leatherlips, visit dublinarts.org/publicart.