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The Fitchburg Art Museum's Contemporary Art Tour
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Welcome to the Fitchburg Contemporary Art App, presented by the Fitchburg Art Museum! This tour will take an in-depth look at a range of different artworks that are found throughout the city of Fitchburg. These visual artworks beautify their specific locations and collectively the city as a whole, enriching the city’s culture and the lives of its residents. Beginning our tour is the giant, figurative steel sculpture Thurston by artist Douglas Kornfeld. The product of teamwork, ingenuity, and innovative design, Thurston rapidly became an icon for the unity and collaborative can-do spirit in the city of Fitchburg. Read on and follow the tour to discover more about Fitchburg’s diverse collection of public art and the artists who created them.

Photo by Serena Folding

Plant, Window, Sky, Land lot

Photo by Serena Folding

Plant, Sky, Property, Window

Photo by Jay Troy

Sky, Cloud, Daytime, Building

Artist Douglas Kornfeld recalls in his own words from the winter of 2015 when Nick Capasso, Director of the Fitchburg Art Museum (FAM) told him, “we really just want a signature work, something that everybody will connect with and will really be a symbol of the Museum.” With the help of a diverse team, Kornfeld accomplished that in the ensuing months, and Thurston was installed on the Fitchburg Art Museum grounds the following fall. The massive sculpture stands at 18 feet tall by 18 feet at its widest point and weighs in at a substantial 4,000 pounds. Its size and shape were designed to integrate it into the architecture of the museum bridge. Through an artistic collaboration between Kornfeld, Montachusett Regional Vocational Technical Schools welding and autobody shop, the Fitchburg Art Museum, and the Fitchburg Public Schools the red epoxy painted steel sculpture became a reality. This sculpture is not only a fantastic work of art, but a key icon for the Fitchburg Art Museum and the city of Fitchburg.

Thurston was officially commissioned in early 2015, and after tireless efforts by the teachers and students of the Montachusett Technical Regional Vocational School welding shop and under Kornfeld's guidance, the sculpture was finished and installed in the fall of 2015. The enormous red figure is ensconced at the center of the FAM bridge in an Atlas-like pose. According to Kornfeld, “The role of the artist is to shake things up, to ask questions, and make us a little uncomfortable. Other people may say the role of an artist is to support our culture and make it stand up. Depending on how you look at this figure, you can see it pushing against it (the building) or pulling it down.” The sculpture remained unnamed until May 1st, 2016 when the Fitchburg Public Schools partnered up with FAM to give this nameless giant an identity through an essay contest. The winner of this contest was Alyssa St. Cyr, a 7th grader from the McKay Arts Academy. St. Cyr was announced the winner, and on that same day her name immortalized on a plaque next to the sculpture; she also received a $1,000 dollar scholarship. From that point on, the sculpture would forever be known as Thurston, named after a metal worker who lived in Fitchburg in the 1800s. Reflecting on the iconic sculpture, St. Cyr shared, “Thurston’s metal physique will continue to stand proud and tall along with carrying on the rich history of the city of Fitchburg for many years to come.” 

Thurston represents the collaboration and unity of Fitchburg’s vastly diverse personalities and peoples. Reflecting on Thurston’s impact on the community Kornfeld shared, “It's something that people can connect with, people gravitate to it, people want to make it part of their experience. I'm very grateful for that. To me it makes it a successful piece that people want to be seen with.” Thurston is a widely recognized figure within the Fitchburg community as well as becoming a symbol for The Fitchburg Art Museum, displaying the qualities of strength, creativity, and camaraderie associated with the Museum.

Artist website:

Writer: Ryan Gaetz

Speaker: Ryan Normand