Community invited to help complete Language of Love sculpture installation

Arts Council of the ValleyArts Council of the Valley, Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and Harrisonburg City Public Schools are prepping for the final installation of a Language of Love sculpture.

On Saturday, Sept. 4, community members are invited to join artist Jeff Guinn from 2-4 p.m. to help paint the sculpture, using stencils representing the multicultural makeup of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham area.

The event is part of HDR’s Best.Weekend.Ever. For details on how you can take part in this fun, community-building activity, visit the Facebook event page (

The sculpture is located near the LOVE sculpture, visible behind the Smith House and adjacent to the Turner Pavilion. Language of Love is a series of three offset wooden platforms elevated on steel posts and crossbeams. Each structure is approximately 25 feet long. The top of each platform rises and falls along an organic line, mimicking the silhouette of surrounding mountains, or flowing water.

“The shapes are meant to represent the physical geography of our area,” Guinn explained, “as well as the movement of shared language and experiences between people.”

He added that the Language of Love sculpture “is meant to visually represent the inclusive and multicultural nature of Harrisonburg and the surrounding area. By virtue of the wide variety of cultural heritages, ethnicities, and countries of origin present, our city has a unique culture that should be celebrated and cultivated.”

“It is my hope,” he continued, “that by viewing the sculpture and engaging with it, that people will be reminded of the rich heritage of our local culture, and also inspired to continue to welcome and draw in new people, experiences, and ideas.”

“Through our public engagement activities, community members expressed deep pride in our city’s extraordinary diversity,” said Andrea Dono, HDR’s executive director, adding that HDR’s research indicated residents want more public art downtown. “The three partners in this project wanted to blend these two core community values of diversity and arts and culture into a single Language of Love project,” she said.

“Public art engages people,” ACV Executive Director Jenny Burden said. “Jeff Guinn’s Language of Love creation highlights how our community views diversity as an asset, and reflects our desire to ensure that all immigrants, refugees, residents, and visitors of diverse backgrounds feel welcome in the Friendly City.”

The project has received support from major sponsors Excel Steel, F&M Bank, The Frame Factory & Gallery, and Riner Rentals; with in-kind support from Fine Earth Landscape Inc, Herr & Company, Knoched VA, RS Monger & Sons, Rocktown Urban Wood, and Shenandoah Paint; along with an Arts Council of the Valley Advancing the Arts grant.

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