Ascent is the name of the 14-foot white sculpture located just east of the Letts Center on Vivian Riddle Drive. The creator of the sculpture is Jack Bergeron. Since 1977, he has taught at the Art, Design, and Multimedia Department at Lansing Community College. Bergeron was also technical assistant for the “Windlord” bronze sculpture at Lansing’s Riverfront Park with its creator, Lansing artist Marty Eichinger. In 1979, Bergeron was commissioned by the city of Lansing to complete a public sculpture. The sculpture was a community project. CETA funds were used to pay for the artwork.
Bergeron describes his artwork as representing upward movement. He named it “Ascent.” It is intended to give a feeling of reaching up to the sky. This is the feeling that encouraged our community in 1979 to select a work of art to inspire this feeling in others. When asked how he liked making the sculpture Bergeron answered “it was a good experience.”
How it was built: Bergeron first created small clay models of his own artistic inspirations. These were placed on display at the Kingsley (now Letts) Community Center and residents were asked to vote on which model they liked the most. The selected model became the basis for the sculpture you see today.
Space was provided in a local warehouse to construct the full size piece. A number of volunteers came to work on the sculpture. First the frame was formed with welded steel rebar. The skin was shaped from chicken wire to act as a mold. The steel and wire form was moved to the Westside Neighborhood onto a former flag base.
Bergeron and community volunteers hand mixed “ferrocement”, a lighter weight concrete often used for outdoor sculptures. Starting early in the morning, crews poured cement for over 18 hours, carefully filling the spaces created by the artist and smoothing over the surface. After curing, Bergeron adjusted the surface and used a concrete coating. The sculpture was then given a final coat of white paint.