Hilde and her family welcomed me at their residence in Cumming, Iowa located in the metro area of Des Moines. Their house is located on a farm and is surrounded by a gorgeous forest. The farm animals along with Hilde’s art work really create a unique space with a peaceful and creative energy.
Hilde is a stunning artist. She is passionate about clay but she also love working with metal and bronze. Her design is based on round shapes that carry her signature curve and counter-curve. Her work genuinely inspires harmony and joy. Hilde has become one of the most sought-after artists in Iowa. She has been recently commissioned to create a Memorial Garden to be delivered next year.
I had the chance to accompany Hilde for the Opening of Art On Campus in West Des Moines. Art On Campus is a collection of art work by Iowan artist that surround the trail around City Hall. Hilde gave a wonderful speech about the value of Public Art. She believes it sparks new ideas and concepts while reinforcing the bonds within the community.
The following day I followed Hilde in Ames, Iowa. She needed to deliver Infinity, a metal sculpture that will be featured on Main Street until the end of the year. It is made of circles looping with other circles. “Everything in nature is round and has curves. Rectangles and squares are man-made. Infinity relates to how insignificant we humans are in the scheme of humankind and space” Hilde explains.
Before installing Infinity, Hilde needed to take back her previous sculpture on display: Wings of Change. She was very happy that two city workers had been assigned to help her. This sculpture is rusted steel and is indeed very heavy and pretty tall. It required special equipment to be loaded on the back of her truck. When Wings of Change was loaded and secured, we headed to Downtown Des Moines. Hilde had designed a couple murals for the city. It was an excellent start for our visit.
Touring a city with a gigantic sculpture in at the back of your truck can bring a lot of attention, probably more so when a photojournalist follows you around. As we stopped at Downtown Sculpture Garden, some people noticed Wings of Change and thought it would be installed. A group of children started pointing at Hilde’s truck. Soon after, the school group had gathered around Hilde and they exchanged a few words about her piece and art in general.
People in Des Moines are really spontaneous, humble and highly personable. The city is big but small enough that you get to truly know the locals. This friendliness clearly appeared to me when we were greeted in person by the Chef of HoQ Restaurant. HoQ is a farm to market restaurant. It hosted an exhibit for Hilde last year and still features some of her work. The food was simple, surprising and delicious, just like Des Moines.
After our meal, I started to photograph Hilde’s sculptures at the restaurant. As I turned around, another group had formed around her. People in Des Moines really take the time to meet you. The Chef joined in, and pretty much everyone in the restaurant started talking together. I started to think this phenomenon deserved to be called Hilde’s effect since these spontaneous gathering always seem to happen around her. Public art really sparks discussion within a community indeed.
It was time for me to head back to Kansas City. But not before visiting her baby goats and photographing her beautiful horses. As we were driving through the farm, the animals also gathered around us. I know they were excepting food, but for my own personal story I will tell myself that it is another illustration of the Hilde’s effect.
I look forward to attending the opening of her Memorial Commission next year.