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Community Council for the Arts
Promoting the Arts:  Public Art Project, "Flue"
An Earthworks Sculpture by Thomas Sayre

On at the corner of Blount and Mitchell Streets in Kinston, where once stood the Brooks Tobacco Warehouse, a sculpture park was developed to pay homage to our community’s tobacco heritage. Slowly and meticulously, renowned sculptor Thomas Sayre created this unique installation using his earth-casting method to produce tobacco barn door facades entitled "Flue". This display consists of seven individual art pieces rising to a height of more than 28 feet.

ABOUT THE ARTIST:  Thomas Sayre’s appreciation of natural elements was established early in life, having grown up in Washington, DC, in the shadow of Washington National Cathedral and influenced by the Cathedral’s talented stonecutters. Mr. Sayre’s education continued at St. Albans School, University of North Carolina, University of Michigan, and Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is a sculptor of commissioned work, occasionally producing studio pieces. However, most of his efforts are focused in the public arena, following the concept of art intersecting with the realities of life.  His commissioned artwork is included in collections throughout the United States, Australia, Turkey, and Hong Kong. He has exhibited his work in a number of private galleries, as well as the North Carolina Museum of Art, the St. John’s Museum, the Waterworks Gallery, and the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art. Mr. Sayre has an office and studio in Raleigh, North Carolina, which includes his multi-disciplinary design firm, Clearscapes. Clearscapes is involved with building design, product design, and both large- and small-scale artwork. Visit the artist's website for more information: .
THE PROCESS:  To create the artwork, Flue, Mr. Sayre used a process called earth-casting, which is a process of casting reinforced concrete directly into a mold cut into the earth. Rebar is shaped to form a template and the shape is dug into the ground using a backhoe and shovels. Rebar is then lowered and suspended above the trench bottom. Lift embeds are positioned to allow the piece to be later lifted out of the ground. Concrete, often mixed with iron oxide color, is then poured and adjusted to the desired height. After curing for 28 days, the piece is dug out of the space. Steel cables are attached to the lift embeds and, using a crane, the piece is lifted and lowered onto an engineered slab. It is then braced and secured. More concrete is poured around the base to create a stable foundation. The technique is finalized by backfilling the casting site and base of the sculpture to ensure stability.
WHY TOBACCO BARN CONCEPT TO CREATE "FLUE"?  “The form and content of this sculpture comes from the rich agricultural heritage which, in no small part, formed the town of Kinston...The sculpture refers to the distinctive proportions and shape of tobacco barns which stand silently on the flat-furrowed fields around Kinston and eastern North Carolina,” states the artist, Thomas Sayre.
PUBLIC INTERACTION:  From September 2015 through December 2015 the public was encouraged to witness the installation of this unique sculpture. Visitors became a part of the project by witnessing the process and often stopped by the site to share stories of how the sculpture reflects their heritage. Now completed, students of all art mediums will glean much from the sculpture's architectural and artistic construction.
IMPORTANCE:  This art installation is sponsored through a collaboration between SmART Kinston City Project Foundation and the Community Council for the Arts.  The project is a part of the public art trail of the Community Council for the Arts, the largest collection of public art in North Carolina. In addition, the sculpture serves as a bridge between Kinston’s arts and cultural district and the City’s downtown business district. It is hoped that the notoriety of having a piece of artwork created by a sculptor of Mr. Sayre’s expertise and reputation will also spur tourism and contributes to the concept of Kinston being an arts-driven destination. Plan your trip today to see this scultpure at the corner of Mitchell Street and Blount Street and make sure and stop by and visit with us at the Arts Center, 400 N. Queen Street in Kinston, North Carolina.
Artist rendering of tobacco barn facades for the earthcasted sculpture, "Flue", by Thomas Sayre. This scultpure is located at the corner of Blount Street and Mitchell Street in Kinston, North Carolina.
SCULPTURE STAGES:  Enjoy viewing the following photos taken during the sculpture's develpment. We invite you to stop by and enjoy this inspiring locally themed art and marvel at the engineering and creativity involved in this one-of-a-kind treasure.

Earthcasting Progress:  Week of September 14, 2015


Earthcasting Progress:  Week of December 8, 2015


Earthcasting Conclusion:  Week of December 14, 2015