Harlequin, a tall sculpture in downtown Woodstock, offers a twist on community connection. Corrina Sephora, an Atlanta-based sculptor and blacksmith with a heart for creating public art that connects to the community, gathered donated scrap metal and turned it into public art.

The leggy Harlequin, which stands between the Mary F. Kish Center and The Reeves House Visual Arts Center, became part of Woodstock’s public art through a generous grant from South Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. The piece was unveiled and celebrated on February 26, 2023, during the closing reception of Corrina’s connected exhibit at The Reeves House titled Echoes of Ecology: Prayers and Rituals.

Corrina’s Connections

Corrina admits, “As an artist one of my confirmations of success is being invited to speak or showcase my work. Nicole [Lampl, curator for The Reeves House] reached out with an opportunity for a grant with South Arts, and I’m grateful to them for their contributions.” Grants help artists immensely, Corrina shares. “It was wonderful to have a grant to subsidize the project, especially when you can create a community-centered piece and teach people how to do what you do.”

In the months before beginning the work, Corrina and Nicole connected and discussed the grant that would help fund the exhibit and workshop intended to create the sculpture. The exhibition debuted as the first in 2023 and featured new sculptures, paintings, drawings, and immersive installations focusing on earth, air, water, and fire.

Inspiration for Harlequin

Much like the sculpture itself, the inspiration for Harlequin is multifaceted. Corrina gained inspiration from an artist and blacksmith named Tom Joyce, who made a baptismal font for a church in New Mexico using metal from the parishioners’ homes. Describing herself as a spiritual person, Corrina believes in the energy in metals mined from the earth. “There’s an alchemical process when you’re heating up the metal, imbuing a new life form into it, and essentially breathing your energy into your work.”

Using Tom’s piece as a starting point, Corrina brainstormed on what to create that would accompany the exhibit. She says she thought, “What if I were to take that same principle of creating with the community and invite them to bring metal and share in the creation?”

Volunteers placed a wheelbarrow outside The Reeves House to collect the metal to prepare for the workshop. Individual contributions included old metal curtain rods, curtain rod rings, and metal from old ice skates. Corrina brought in other contributing pieces from her workshop in Atlanta, including the boat shape at the top, a piece she started in graduate school. She decided that donating it fit aesthetically and conceptually into the overall idea for the structure. The boat is made of recycled metal using papyrus leaves that she previously cast in iron. The thin metal pieces gently curve and form the ribs of the structure. Additionally some of the smaller pieces for Harlequin were pre-forged before Corrina brought them back to Woodstock for the workshop where attendees—and anyone walking by—could observe and help create the structure.

Harlequin by Corrina Sephora / Woodstock Public Art / Public Art Gets Personal (Photo Credit: Jaye Grimes/Enjoy Cherokee Magazine)

Harlequin by Corrina Sephora in Downtown Woodstock

The title, Harlequin, comes from an Italian children’s story Corrina heard as a young girl. The story features a poor young boy, the harlequin, who desperately wishes to attend the town carnival but has no costume to wear. To help, his friends pitch in and offer him fabric scraps, and his mother spends all night stitching them together to create a beautiful handmade cape. When he awakes the following day, he can attend the carnival thanks to his mother’s love and the generosity of his friends.

Public Art Fosters Inclusion

Corrina has many public art pieces on display nationwide and throughout metro Atlanta, including Decatur, Marietta, Kennesaw, and Smyrna. Her first public art piece was placed at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens in 1997. Additional pieces of her work can be found at Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, Greenfield Hebrew Academy, and Freedom Park.

Regarding the positive impact of public art, Corrina says, “One of my beliefs about public art is that it’s art for everyone. Not everyone will go inside a museum or a gallery, but public art is there for people to enjoy and interact with. If they can relate to it in some way, if they can connect, it fosters creativity and a connection to art. It makes people feel included.”

About the Artist

Corrina Sephora, a mixed-media artist and blacksmith, specializes in metal sculpture, painting, and installation. Her work explores universal and personal themes of loss and transformation within the contexts of contemporary society, with recurring motifs of ladders, boats, and celestial atmospheres. Corrina earned her bachelor of arts degree in metals and sculpture at Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, in 1995. She received her master of arts degree in sculpture in 2005 from Georgia State University, and she has participated in residencies throughout the United States and abroad. Locally her work will appear at the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art in April. Corrina’s work will also be featured internationally in an upcoming show at Palazzo Benbo in Venice, Italy. For more information about upcoming shows or Corrina’s previous exhibits, visit CorrinaSephora.com.

 

 

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