Ice is located in Mattis Park in Champaign. Surrounded by beautiful natural landscape, the work stands in stark contrast to the nearby pond and trees. Ice is simultaneously geometric and organic. Shapes that initially appear hard edged twist gently to create softer smother transitions from one area to the next. Many of the geometric shapes appear solid from one angle, but are hollow from another. The flat metal that constructs these shapes is textured. They seem to also soften the sharp angles created by the metal. It appears as though the metal pieces have been banged and prodded, almost as if an ice sculptor chiseled away at their form. Thin cylindrical rods that begin from the bottom of the piece and shoot out at the very top break up the flat geometric elements. In some places they travel along the edge of a shape, and in others they flow around them in their own individual organic movement. The metal itself appears cold against a lush summer landscape, and reflects the frigidity of a Midwestern winter.
Artist Michael Gerald Helbing is a fellow Illinoisan, currently residing in Berwyn. After serving in the US army in Vietnam in the 1st division and 26 infantry, his return to life in America brought on this personal revelation: “War is like a crucible where elements of life are placed together and heated to incredible mental temperatures and the very assumptions and basis of existence are challenged, changed, rearranged and reconstructed. Life’s realities are changed forever and have to be rebuilt.” This lead to his artistic investigations about the communication between human and nature, and finding ones place within the natural order.