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Sijia Chen, the selected artist for the Hoover Road bike trail public artwork commission as part of the Wichita Northwest Water Facility enhancement project, draws inspiration from Wichita’s motto as the “Air Capital of the World” and the exhilarating sensation of riding a bike. Akin to taking flight, Sijia is representing the experience of riding a bicycle, and capturing the essence of movement and the joy it brings. Sijia seeks to embody Wichita’s rich history, culture, and spirit. A central theme of this artwork is community involvement, integrating the voices, memories, and visions of the people who call Wichita home.
Sijia’s vision for the project is to immerse cyclists in a sensation of flying through the clouds, enhancing their sense of speed, freedom, and joy. Some of the sculptures will even resemble clouds when viewed from above, and others will feature horizontal panels, providing spaces for the public to sit, relax, and closely observe the artwork. These functional elements will activate the site and encourage interaction.
A distinctive element of Sijia’s artistic practice is the active engagement of the community. She believes that the artwork should reflect Wichita’s unique character, and to achieve this, she is inviting everyone to share their perspectives and insight about the city. Additionally, she plans to collaborate with local schools, hosting papercut workshops to gather designs and narratives from the next generation. Ultimately, the sculptures will serve as a collection of personal and communal stories, images, patterns, and text. This project intends to transform the public from passive observers to active participants, and to establish a legacy of community activation and civic pride.