North Star

Artist Barry Tinsley sculpted this work, sponsored by The Station. North Star can be found in front of the old train station on North Chestnut St. in downtown Champaign

North Star stands on North Chestnut Street directly in front of the old train station in Champaign. The work itself is abstract. Created from metal that has rusted to a deep brown hue, it is comprised of flat pieces of metal that interact with one another on a relatively thin plane. Each of the shapes could be exaggerated forms tracing constellations in the sky. Together they form a complete border around a large open space that allows viewers to look through the sculpture at the doors of the building. The outer shape is jagged. Pieces of metal jut out at many angles leading the viewer’s eye in a number of directions. This can symbolically represent the travelers using the North Star to guide them in a multitude of directions. Their abstract composition is like the abstract nature of the stars within the galaxy; you must use your imagination to find their hidden meaning and purpose.

The title of the work conjures narratives of travelers using the North Star to find their way to the final destination. Its placement at the old train station is symbolic of past journeys. Long time residents from the area could see this work as a landmark to remember fondly their past travels and adventures that began and ended at this train station. An abstract sculpture can lead the viewer in almost any direction, but the North Star leads everyone the same way. This work can be seen as a way to unify viewers in their efforts to travel, but simultaneously allow them their individual freedom to find their own way to wherever their going.