Vidustria is the name of the new LED-lit sculpture by the South Lakes High School STEAM Team installed in Hyatt Park on Presidents Street in Reston Town Center. A program on Nov. 25 officially recognized the student artists and sponsors responsible for the project.
"It's such a great example of project-based learning and setting you up for the kinds of things you're going to do in the workforce in the future,” said Kimberly Retzer, principal of SLHS. “[It’s] being able to work from the inception of an idea to the actual installation, and all the pieces that go in between. So no matter what field you go into in the future, your experience and being involved in this is going to set you apart from others."
The sculpture’s name draws from the word "vigor" and the Latin term "Industria," meaning energy. Vidustria is intended to reflect the three-year effort, resilience, determination, spirit, and passion the students, teacher Marco Rando, and others put into the project leading to the installation of the aluminum composite and acrylic panel sculpture. A recurring theme within the sculpture is interconnectivity. The individual energy each student puts into Vidustria is what elevates the project.
It was on Feb. 5, 2020, that students of the South Lakes High School STEAM team took a group of select professionals and stakeholders on a design journey. The students had collaborated for months on a project to deliver a large temporary sculpture they envisioned and fabricated to Reston Town Center in the spring of 2020. "That day, they were presenting their ideas for what it was going to look like," recalled Principal Retzer.
Lenticular maquettes illustrated the three final proposed designs. One was a sculpture with spaced columns; the next was a solid-form column concept; and the third was three cylinders with negative space between them, allowing the cylinders to spin. Students addressed safety, weather, lighting, and architectural considerations.
"Then something called the pandemic intervened," said Robert Goudie, executive director of the Reston Town Center Association. The project ground to a sudden halt. As countries across the globe went into lockdown, no one’s priority was the art installation. The temporary sculpture became a long-term touchstone issue in need of resolution.
Fast-forward to late fall 2022. The school staff, supporters, and others celebrated Vidustria’s installation. Thanks went to those who persisted tenaciously to make the project happen: students, including those who went on to graduate and the new students, who took up the mantle, Rando, and the "incredible sponsors," all of whom made financial contributions or contributed their time and resources pro bono.
"Sometimes these days, we don't give kids credit for sticking through and seeing something done, and obviously having Marco Rando as their teacher leader speaks volumes," said Retzer. "It's really the work of the kids that we’re so proud of. It ultimately shows in the work and the support that we got from our business partners to make all this happen."
Tyson Warren, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Reston, said, "I know it’s been a three-year project, but we’re glad to be partners. We hope to continue this tradition in the future because I think it’s a great addition to the park, but it’s also a great way for each of you all to have a piece here in Reston."
Rando, the art teacher at SLHS, said temporary public art is an excellent platform for education. It brings the community into the classroom, where students must form partnerships with talented people who provide services to complete the project. Addressing the assembled students, Rando said, "Kudos to you for putting all those little details together. ... You're laying the foundation for educational change … the norm of the future where students are going to have the opportunity to work on something they can put in their community, work with professionals."
Area businesses supported Reston Town Center Association and South Lakes High School STEAM Team leading to the celebration of Vidustria, a student art installation on Friday, Nov. 25, at Hyatt Park, Presidents Street, Reston Town Center. The Community Partners are Reston Town Center Association and Public Art Reston. Sponsors are Hyatt Regency, Commercial Concrete, Power Services, Thornton Tomasetti, Provectus, Inc., KCS, A Yellowstone Landscape Company, Boston Properties, and FASTSIGNS.