The long-awaited inaugural work in the new Jon Hassler Sculpture Garden at Saint John’s University will have its official blessing and dedication ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 22 between Alcuin Library and the Dietrich Reinhart Learning Commons.
Kura: Prophetic Messenger – produced by Richard Bresnahan, artist-in-residence and founder of The Saint John’s Pottery – was installed in the summer of 2020 and finished in September of that year, but a ceremony could not be held because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friday’s blessing and dedication will be led by Saint John’s Abbey Abbot John Klassen, OSB, and Saint John’s University Transitional President Dr. James Mullen.
“This blessing and ceremony are very important on one hand to acknowledge the donors who helped make this project possible,” said Steven Lemke, associate director and environmental artist-in-residence at The Saint John’s Pottery.
“But it’s also open to the public. That’s important because the sculpture wasn’t made for any one person. It was made for the entire community.”
The delay caused by the pandemic allowed for production of an accompanying book by Bresnahan and his collaborators describing how the project came together.
“The book’s foundation is to be the companion piece to this sculpture,” Bresnahan told the Saint John’s Magazine in its most recent edition. “It’s the history of the evolution of how the design and ideas came together, how the pieces of the sculpture came together.”
Five major pieces weighing a combined 14,000 pounds make up the foundation of the sculpture, which features a 4,800-pound base of granite. This slab was removed from the Alcuin Library when it was connected to the adjacent Learning Commons. Many of the materials were repurposed from other iconic structures on the SJU campus.
The word Kura comes from the Japanese term for storehouse, which was historically used to protect food supplies for future use.
At the center of the round, stainless steel Kura suspended at the sculpture’s center is a handmade scroll of the Rule of St. Benedict assembled by local artist Mary Bruno with a reclaimed redwood scroll and display stand crafted by local artisan Jeff Thompson.
Surrounding the scroll are 12 large pottery containers housing 178 smaller jars filled with species of rare, endangered and heirloom seeds from all over the world, some of which feature genetics over 1,500 years old.
“So much has gone into this project,” Lemke said. “In many ways, it’s really a culmination of everything Richard has been doing here at The Saint John’s Pottery since 1979. At the same time, it provides a bold vision for environmental art education for future generations.”