Belleville West students create sculpture designed to encourage peaceful conversation

Reza Pishgahi, a sculpture artist from Iran via Bloomington, Ind., is thinking about retiring and he wanted to find a way to give guidance to young artists.

He found his path by participating in Art on the Square’s annual High School Sculpture in the City program this week at Belleville West High School.

Pishgahi created a model of two people facing each other on top of two circular supports. He said the metal and glass sculpture, which has the working titles of “Closing the Gap” and “The Conversation,” is designed to encourage people to sit down and talk about their differences. And this week he is helping students build a 10-foot tall version of the model.

“The idea is that instead of shouting at each other, they are sitting and talking and trying to symbolically close the gap,” Pishgahi said.

This program is a prelude to the 18th annual Art on the Square festival scheduled for the Public Square in downtown Belleville May 17-19.

Admission is free each day and about 100 artists, including Pishgahi, will display their creations.

On Friday, May 17, the show kicks off at 4 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m.

The hours for Saturday, May 18 will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sunday, May 19 it will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In addition to the sale of fine art, the festival features activities for children, live entertainment and artist demonstrations. In previous years, the show has ranked nationally in terms of the volume of sales reported by artists.

Mike Koziatek joined the Belleville News-Democrat in 1998 as an assistant editor and is now a reporter covering the Belleville area. He graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee and grew up in St. Louis.