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Austin hosts community potluck and sculpture unveiling

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AUSTIN, Minn. (FOX 47) — A sculpture named The Wishing Tree just became Austin’s newest piece of artwork.

“The Wishing Tree, which is a community based project here in Austin, and we’re excited that it’s here at the Hormel Institute. This is one of the ways in which we can begin to engage with our own community more broadly,” said Dr. Bob Clarke, Hormel Institute executive director.

The wishing tree just became Austin’s newest peace of artwork. Made out of melted metal, the sculpture is meant to be interactive.

“Hand stamp lettered messages into the leaves, and then put colored inks on them and then hang them from the tree,” said Sara Hanson, the artist of the sculpture.

“I think it really showcases the community of Austin, and shows how everyone has come together for a greater purpose,” said Kelly Vincelette, the Hormel community outreach and education manager.

“My piece of the sculpture was representing Austin. Some folks have direct links to Austin, some folks take a meandering trail to Austin, however they get here,” said Austin Mayor Steve King.

What followed the sculpture’s unveiling was a community potluck event, meant to celebrate the city of Austin and its diversity.

“An informal way to visit with our researchers and our scientists,” said Vincelette.

“We want to engage. This is not just an ivory tower where we do research, this is a place where people come and work and engage. They come into this community. They live in this community. We want to be a bigger part of that,” said Clarke.

The main focus was on the tree, which is and the expected to travel around Austin.

“Extending that to a wider audience now that it’s included in public sculpture,” said Hanson.

“You could kind of, by looking at that sculpture, see the different entities around Austin that are important to our community. Like the Hormel Institute, like Mayo clinic, like our schools,” said King.

“Here at the institute, we do research into finding cures for some of the most common and most devastating diseases. And I’m sure there will have been many people who have been affected by those, and whose wish will be that it will be cured,” said Clarke.

Noah Caplan

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