Collaboration Leads to New Metal Art in Perry

Furrowed homestead 

​A plow share cannot go forward to cultivate land without a power source and a guiding force; neither can a supersized metal sculpture move from concept to reality by itself. On Sat., Nov. 10, the community of Perry will celebrate the installation of its newest public sculpture, Furrowed Fields, the fourth and final piece to be placed on the city’s main thoroughfare, Willis Avenue. Together the four Boulevard Sculptures commemorate the historical development of Perry – the railroad, agriculture, industry, and art.

Art on the Prairie commissioned Des Moines sculptor Jim Russell and his son Matt to design and create Furrowed Fields, which celebrates Perry’s agricultural history. The giant steel creation of a horse drawn plow, facing west, results from the collaboration of the Russells’ vision, Art on the Prairie, generous grants and contributions—and the skills and talents of welding students from the Des Moines Area Community College VanKirk Career Academy in Perry.

“The DMACC VanKirk Career academy helps provide the education and training that people need to pursue their career goal and pursue opportunities here in Central Iowa,” says Eddie Diaz, Director, DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy. “The small role our students helped play in this sculpture project shows the wide range that welding skills can be used for. Not only does the workforce need them, but the skills offer improvements to the cultural richness of small towns.”

In a state with 13% of its workforce in manufacturing and 4th in the nation for the percentage of total jobs in manufacturing, Iowa needs workers skilled in welding and other trades to meet demand. DMACC VanKirk Career Academy offers welding certificate and diploma programs that get Iowans job-ready in 18 months or less . . . with on-the-job experience to boot.

The collaboration between Art on the Prairie, the Russells, the City of Perry, and DMACC to produce Furrowed Fields showcases both local talent and the broad career opportunities available in welding through DMACC in Perry.

“We are excited about the renewed interest in welding and look for more collaboration opportunities with surrounding communities,” says Diaz.  

The unveiling and dedication of Furrowed Fields was part of Perry’s 9th annual Art on the Prairie festival which celebrates the arts in Perry’s downtown Cultural and Historic District. It was Saturday, Nov. 10, 5:30 p.m. at 2nd Street and Willis Ave., Perry. Participating DMACC students were recognized. DMACC president Rob Denson was​ among those giving remarks.​