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Western Illinois University Assistant Art Professor Duke Oursler worked together with his students to create this community art piece placed on West Jackson Street.
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Oursler Sculpture Highlights Rotary Property in Macomb

October 30, 2012

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MACOMB, IL – When Western Illinois University Assistant Professor Duke Oursler was commissioned to create a sculpture for green space on Macomb's West Jackson Street, he looked to the "character of the community" for inspiration.

The result of Oursler's work is the new sculpture in the Rotary Clubs' green space, a tribute to Macomb's heritage as a train community and to hard work.

"Being new to Macomb, everyone talks about the train and Macomb's history as a railroad town," Oursler said. "The railroad itself is a conduit to America; it's a way we stay connected. I wanted to develop a concept for the sculpture so the railroad was recognizable."

The main motivation for the piece came from photographs Oursler saw of an American Class steam engine.

"It just seemed to fit Macomb really well," he said. "It was about the heart of America and a hard working group of people."

The end result was an abstract piece that reflects the train tracks, as well as the wedge on the front of the train. The main part of the sculpture is made of stainless steel.

Construction of the sculpture took about four months to complete. The pieces were cut out by Fushion Tech, of Roseville, and assembled at Western.

Oursler said his sculpture students were involved in the process as much as possible.

"It helped them see how public art is made, from the engineering and planning to the safety involved," he said.

Oursler said he has received positive feedback about adding art to the Macomb community.

"Public art gives you a sense of community," he said. "When you put art somewhere, it makes the place in which you display the art more important, more interesting – people are more likely to take pride in those areas."

The sculpture was paid for by donations from the Macomb Noon and Morning Rotary Clubs, memorial donations after the deaths of club members Don Johnson and Nye Bouslog and money earmarked by the city of Macomb for development of the green space.

Macomb Mayor Mike Inman said he was proud of the way the clubs worked together with the city and with WIU to make the project happen.

"This project brought many local groups in on an enhancement project for Macomb," Inman said. "It is great to see it result in something that helps improve the west entrance to our city. "

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