Art takes flight at SWIC

Artist Dale Rogers (right) hoist one of his birds to be suspended from a steel frame Sunday at SWIC in Belleville.
Artist Dale Rogers (right) hoist one of his birds to be suspended from a steel frame Sunday at SWIC in Belleville. News-Democrat

A temporary outdoor art exhibit at Southwestern Illinois College pays tribute to neighboring Scott Air Force Base.

“Flight” is a series of nine stainless steel-crafted birds designed by Massachusetts sculptor Dale Rogers. Each has a wingspan of 12 feet and weighs between 200 and 250 pounds. They currently hang between 12 and 16 feet above the ground suspended in caging and placed in a line several yards long through the middle of campus.

Rogers was on site Sunday morning with a work crew who was hoisting the flock in place. He said SWIC was a beautiful setting for his exhibit where they temporary exhibit can be seen from outside and inside adjacent classrooms and office buildings.

“They’ll kind of be in a zig-zag pattern along the road here to give a natural free flowing appearance that birds are coming by,” Rogers said.

“They’ll have a great area to be able to view them, from top and bottom, which is exciting because most of the exhibitions that I do they just see them from the bottom. We want to give that feel of natural flight.”

The exhibit is a nod to the local military as the city prepares for the annual Art on the Square outdoor art show in downtown Belleville. This art was made possible by a grant from PNC Arts Alive, a program from PNC Bank that supports the arts and art education. Art of the Square Executive Director Patti Gregory said this is the second grant from the bank’s program to Belleville in the last three years.

Sunday was not Roger’s first visit to Belleville. The artist, whose studio is located at Haverhill, Mass., said he has a number of steel sculptures that he has designed and installed throughout the city, including “The Raven,” located in front of Belleville Public Library on East Washington Street and “American Dog,” a steel dog sculpture in Ever and Anon Park off East Main Street.

The birds will remain in flight for viewing through May 20. Art on the Square will be held at Public Square May 15-17. This year marsk the 14th year for the downtown Belleville art show, which attracts artists from across the country and has consistently gained national acclaim as one of the top art shows in the United States.

Contact reporter Will Buss at or 618-239-2526.

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