OARDC Dedicates New Art, Renovated Campus Entrance


WOOSTER, Ohio — Science met art Sept. 16 when Wooster’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center dedicated a new sculpture and water feature at its renovated campus entrance.

The event took place six years to the day after a tornado entered the campus at nearly the very same spot, causing millions of dollars in damage to greenhouses, buildings and trees but fortunately no injuries.

Called “The Fruit of Inquiry,” the sculpture was done by Gallipolis artist Kevin Lyles, who’s a professor of sculpture at the University of Rio Grande in southeast Ohio.

It features small fountains, 15 tons of glacial stone symbolizing Ohio’s soil and fields, large open cubes made from gleaming metal rods evoking streams and flowing water, and some 70 bronze castings representing the “astounding” wide range of OARDC’s research, Lyles said.

Included among the castings, for example, are images of an apple, chicken, white oak, honeybees, tomato, dandelion, DNA strand, mitochondria, carbon dioxide molecule and nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

‘Curiosity breeds imagination, investigation’

“This form is utilized to represent the building blocks of research that OARDC does each and every day,” Lyles said in a statement about the piece. “Curiosity breeds imagination, which then becomes investigation.

“It takes communication, hard work, perseverance and many failures along the way to finally turn that initial idea into inspired reality. That sequence is neither predictable nor compliant and will often demonstrate this growth randomly, just as the blocks in the work seem arbitrarily organized.”

OARDC, located about 60 miles south of Cleveland, is part of The Ohio State University and its College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

Rio Grande connection

In comments during the event, Lyles thanked his family, the Ohio Arts Council, OARDC, Rio Grande and his students at the university who helped with the project.

Rio Grande President Michelle Johnston, who also spoke at the event, said Lyle’s sculpture “just draws you in. You want to come in and find out what this place is about. That’s what art can do.”

“We’re extremely proud of you, and for you,” she said to Lyles, adding, “I’m proud we have this connection now from Rio Grande to Ohio State and OARDC.”

Funding for the project came from the Ohio Percent for Art Program. The program, which is administered by the Ohio Arts Council, provides funds for works of art at new or renovated public buildings.

Better access to Fisher

In this case, Fisher Auditorium, which is located at OARDC’s campus entrance, recently had extensive state-funded improvements made to its sidewalks, entranceways and landscaping. The roads near the entrance and in front of the auditorium also were reconfigured to improve the area’s appearance, traffic flow and pedestrian safety. The auditorium often gets used for public events.

Wooster Campus Director Dave Benfield spoke at and emceed the event, which drew attendees from the campus and surrounding community, including Wooster Mayor Bob Breneman; former OARDC Director Steve Slack; and representatives of the Ohio Arts Council, Main Street Wooster, the Wayne Economic Development Council, Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce and the contractors that worked on the project.

Details on Lyles and his work are at kevinlyles.com.

CFAES News Team
For more information, contact: 

Dave Benfield