Central College’s glassblowing class and Brian Roberts, professor of art and Class of 1992 graduate, teamed up with the Friends of Big Rock Park, Pella, Iowa, to create 23 glass orbs to place in the park this summer.
George Clark, president of Big Rock Park and Central Class of 1991 graduate, proposed the idea to Roberts after learning of a similar project in Block Island, Rhode Island.
“We want to create fun ways to increase usage of the park by local residents,” Clark explains. “I’d seen a news article about an artist in Rhode Island who placed orbs in a park during the pandemic. I asked Brian if he and his students could take on this project. They agreed readily.”
Roberts used this opportunity to engage his students in the community. “As we think about the coursework for students and developing engaged citizens, this project is an excellent opportunity for building community. My vision is to continue engaging students in the community through this service.”
“The orbs can be kept by the individuals who find them in the park,” says Gunner Hutton, Class of 2025 from St. Charles, Iowa. “We blew 23 glass orbs for the year, 2023. Each has a stamp that looks like a barn owl representing Big Rock Park. It’s really cool. They are all distinct colors and mixed colors.”
Hutton along with Grace Parrish, Class of 2023, and Zack Doster, Class of 2024, spent a portion of the spring semester blowing the orbs as a service to the community.
“The students worked together for this project,” Roberts says. “Glassblowing is different from other classes because there are a small number of students typically, and it takes teamwork. It takes at least two people when making each orb.”