The Gathering Tree & Icon Fountain
The Gathering Tree and Icon Fountain took over a year and a half from inception to unveiling, with the major work taking up most of the year 2014. The University initially approached Joshua Diedrich asking for a simple bronze university seal to be inset into a concrete slab in the middle of a newly planned traffic roundabout. As the project evolved, the University asked Diedrich to design a much larger plaza to contain the sculpture, including a water feature. Diedrich submitted three designs, one was chosen and turned from a miniature, and the sketches turned into plans for a buildable blueprint by architect Dan Tryles after Diedrich’s model.
Two full size models of the tree were built by Diedrich’s studio on the final site to check possible sizes in relation to the surrounding buildings. The university had been using the site as a place to store plowed snow during an especially harsh winter, so the models were erected on top of a 20 foot pile of ice in the middle of a -10 degree blizzard in February, where they were destroyed by wind and had to be rebuilt a month later before the project could go forward.
The tree, seal, and large letters on the back of the fountain were all made by Diedrich and his assistant Nikki Kazmar by hand out of wax, then cast into bronze by Alchemist sculpture foundry in Kalamazoo.
The piece was installed on March 11th, 2015, and dedicated on May 4th of that year.