Wisconsin-made sculpture is a text message on diversity | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Wisconsin-made sculpture is a text message on diversity

FOX POINT ­­– Location, location, location.

Jerusalem is arguably at the center of the world. Hebrew University, at the center of Jerusalem.

Now, planners have intentionally chosen a spot for Hebrew University’s large, new brain sciences building that is to have it serve as a gateway between the university campus and the city. The brain center is also positioned on campus to encourage interdisciplinary work.

So imagine Wisconsin artist Richard Edelman’s delight over the future home of his massive new work of outdoor art. It’s to be placed near that brain center, the Suzanne and Charles Goodman Brain Sciences Building at Hebrew University’s Edmund J. Safra Campus in Jerusalem.

About eight months ago, Edelman started the construction of “Double Helix,” a sculpture based on microscopic science that’s anything but microscopic, reaching about 17-feet into the sky. The work started in his Fox Point home studio and later moved to a larger facility in Jackson.


“It feels really incredible to be associated with an institution like that,” he said. “To be within shouting distance of the new brain center. It’s going to be a pretty important place.”

Edelman has work on display around the Milwaukee area and elsewhere. He’s the creator of amplifying shofars, large sculptures that can naturally augment the sound of a shofar blown into them. Shofar Krakow is one such sculpture, installed in Krakow, Poland during a 2015 Milwaukee Jewish Federation mission trip.

Double Helix will be Edelman’s second overseas installation and his first work on display at a university.

The double helix is a term of molecular biology, referring to the winding dual structure formed by molecules of nucleic acids.

Playing off the double theme, the sculpture features pairs of letters. The letters reside inside hexagons and pentagons, a nod to shapes used in scientific thought and communication. Hebrew University officials wanted Edelman’s work to acknowledge the diversity on campus, so there are English, Hebrew and Arabic letters representing the name of the school. In English, for example, it’s “H” and “U” for “Hebrew University.” It’s like a Scrabble-style text message in support of diversity.

Dual trips to Israel

The Double Helix will necessitate a double trip to Israel in the weeks to come. Edelman will travel to Jerusalem, possibly as soon as in late April, to install and choose a facing position for the sculpture on its base. But before that can happen, the sculpture has got to get there.

So it has been designed to fit inside a standard 20-foot shipping container. The plan is to ship a wooden crate containing the sculpture from Wisconsin by rail and sea. Once at port in Ashdod, Israel, the crate is to be placed on a flatbed truck for transport to Jerusalem.

The base of this “Double Helix” sculpture is intended to show rootedness, while the English, Hebrew and Arabic letters represent the diversity on campus.


If you should ever see it in Jerusalem, take a look at the bottom portion of the sculpture. It shows “the rootedness of our knowledge,” Edelman said.

He hopes people who see it will consider “the unity of research, how all different kinds of research comes together and also how the student body comes together.”