Biggs entrance gets face-lift

Artist Erica Loustau of West Grove, PA stands in front of her sculpture being installed in front of the Biggs Museum of America Art in Dover Thursday.

Artist Erica Loustau of West Grove, PA stands in front of her sculpture being installed in front of the Biggs Museum of America Art in Dover Thursday.

DOVER — If you’ve passed the Biggs Museum of American Art in the last three months, you may have noticed a spiral column of birds hanging inside the entrance. Dozens of red-winged blackbirds seem to rise up as if they’re flying, making for an eye-catching sight.

Suspending the birds from the atrium ceiling is one phase in an art installation that took another step forward Thursday when workers began setting up a metal facsimile of a tree in front of the door.

Artist Erica Loustau was commissioned by the Biggs to make a design similar to several of her previous pieces. A native of West Grove, Pennsylvania, she has been working as an artist for 20 years and made nearly identical hanging exhibits at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts and the Delaware College of Art and Design, among other places.

“I like working in an aerial sculpture because it can often activate an underutilized space where it’s difficult to place artwork but can also make a big impact,” she said.

Birds will appear to be flying from the tree into the entrance of the museum.

Birds will appear to be flying from the tree into the entrance of the museum.

When complete, the exhibit will feature not just the hanging birds inside but a flock that appears to be flying from the metal tree right to the door of the museum.

Ms. Loustau hopes it will be finished within three weeks,

The project was ordered by the Biggs to complement its newly renovated entrance area, according to Ms. Loustau. She was contacted by museum curator Ryan Grover. Representatives from the museum could not be reached for comment.

On Thursday, workers installed the trunk — previously welded together from several pieces of stainless steel — into the ground using a backhoe. By late afternoon workers had placed several metal branches onto the metal tree, which will stand 16 feet tall once complete.

Eighteen months of work went into the sculpture, and Ms. Loustau hand-painted 2,000 aluminum birds with the help of SpecFab Services. Those will be attached to the tree over the next few weeks.

“It’ll imply that the flock of birds is flying from outside to inside through the window,” the artist said of her piece.

Red-winged blackbirds are a common sight in Delaware, she said, making them a fitting choice.

If all goes well, the piece could be finished by the time Dover Days rolls around on May 1.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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