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Tim Smith Scales of Justice
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Art Professor's Sculpture Inspires Thoughts about Justice, Heritage

Posted on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 [5:21 PM]

Tim Smith Scales of Justice001 August 2010
Professor of Art Tim Smith hopes The Scales of Justice will inspire people to think about
democracy, justice and law as it much as it decorates the space in front of the Adair
County Judicial Center.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- Lindsey Wilson College Professor of Art Tim Smith hopes his latest sculpture will be more than a pretty decoration in front of the Adair County Justice Center. He also hopes it will remind people about justice and the meaning of democracy.

Smith, who has been a member of the LWC faculty since 1992, recently unveiled The Scales of Justice, a  four-foot tall welded sheet bronze sculpture perched on a fountain in front of the Adair County Judicial Center.

It took Smith -- who has two other pieces of public art in Adair County -- about three months to create the piece. But it was inspired by more than a century of local history.

In addition to prominently showcasing a set of scales, the piece also features scrolls on the back to symbolize law and justice. The shape of the scales is almost identical to the shape of the lampposts in front of the Adair County Courthouse.

Scales also includes sculpted leaves of the Tulip Poplar, the state tree of Kentucky. The sculpture also has leaf patterns and other elements that Smith derived from some of the plaster designs on older storefront of Columbia's Public Square.

"If you look at some of the plasters on the old storefronts and on the courthouse itself, you will find that same design that is in the sculpture," Smith said.

For Smith, using themes of the courthouse and century-old storefronts was a way of connecting Adair County's past to its future.

"I took design elements like that and incorporated them into the sculpture's design as a way of connecting the old to the new," he said.

Smith has a public sculpture on the LWC A.P. White Campus in front of the W.W. Slider Humanities Center, and he has one in Columbia Cemetery that pays tribute to Adair County native Col. Frank Wolford, who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

Smith also has a public sculpture in Branson, Mo., as well as at several U.S. corporations' offices.

And Smith says public art is more relevant than ever.

"Public art matters -- it is a type of art that has the opportunity to really be significant because it is public," Smith said. "Very often, public art is something that will in a sense interact with people. And I think in today's age -- with a lot of confusion, a lot of different ideas, almost anxiety about urban lifestyle -- traditional artwork sometimes doesn't seem to have a lot of relevance to people's lives. Public art can have relevance because it is direct and physical and interacts where people are."

Smith hopes The Scales of Justice will also inspire people to consider the importance of democracy in modern America.

"It's nice to create something that people notice -- especially because it draws the association to the significance of what a courthouse means, what it means to us as a people," he said. "It's fun to be a part of that."

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