Professor Avenue Streetscape : Dendrite
About the Work
Cleveland artist Olga Ziemska created and installed Dendrite, the public art component of a streetscape project undertaken by the City of Cleveland on Professor Avenue in Tremont. The work was funded in part through the city’s Public Art Program, a percent-for-art program that requires most major capital-improvement projects carried out by the city to set aside funds for project-specific public art.
Tremont is a neighborhood that has successfully employed the arts in its efforts to maintain and increase vitality, and Dendrite makes this point by providing the neighborhood with an iconic artwork that is not typical of what one might expect to find in this part of town.
The artwork, installed in December 2013, has two main components, a two-foot-tall concrete sculpture depicting a section of a human head in a thoughtful state and a 16-foot-tall sculptural tree emerging from the head’s flat top. The top of the head, which is designed as a seating area, includes a labyrinth that is flush with its surface. The installation is set on the new outdoor plaza at the reworked intersection of Professor Avenue and West 10th Street and gives a different visual impression from the many vantage points it is viewable from.
The head appears to be cast in solid concrete but actually is composed of glass fiber-reinforced concrete, which consists of a relatively thin layer of fiber enhanced concrete applied to a fiberglass mesh armature that in turn is given shape by an underlying foam sculpture. The tree emerging from the head is made of painted steel.
Dendrite symbolizes humanity as a part of nature rather than as a freestanding entity that is merely connected to nature.
How It Started
According to Ziemska, the piece was inspired by the street names of Professor, Literary, University and College, which are vestiges of the neighborhood’s days as a college town. She began thinking about creating a public sculpture and a public space for contemplation, observation and interaction for the Tremont community —much like what the space of a university provides for its students and surrounding community.