Title: Revering The Phoenix Effect
Artist: Jorge Leyva
Location: Joplin Public Library (1901 E 20th St)
Date Completed: June 2017
Artist Statement: My art has been strongly influenced by nature and our social condition throughout most of my art career as a painter and sculptor. With the tornado devastation of my hometown – Joplin, Missouri – in 2011, my art and creative philosophy was dramatically changed. Nature and identity became my new approach to creativity. Social concerns were no longer pivotal in the way I thought about my work. The public’s response to the aftermath of the tornado, and the importance placed on who we are as a community, transformed my work. I became aware that our sense of identity was too tightly connected to the loss of our possessions. As a community, we have idolized our physical homes and placed too much importance in “things.” The sculpture “Revering The Phoenix Effect” is a piece celebrating resilience and hope in the midst of chaos and pain. Each house represents an identity lost, each branch a new growth, a new blade of grass, a new life rising from devastation. As nature and man-made objects come together, they grow in unison and become a renewed community. I hope that in time this piece becomes a symbol of strength and tenacity for our community. Or a celebration of those who had to fend themselves from the talons and fire of the dragon tornado. But to me it will always be about the spirit and heart of the people who worked hard to renew their identities.

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