Randy Walker doesn’t try to change a space with a piece of art, he works to complement it.

Before building the sculpture “Pathways” for the courtyard at the Rochester Community and Technical College, he sat in the space and watched students and staff move through the courtyard.

The sculpture of 70 steel pieces in 10 different colors assembled in parallel and intersecting lines was inspired by what Walker saw, he said.

“I was inspired by RCTC as a place where people come and take different paths,” he told the crowd at the dedication ceremony Thursday afternoon.

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Walker, who studied to be an architect and worked in the field for more than a decade, found his own intersection when he moved from that career to art.

RCTC President Jeffrey Boyd said he saw the symbolism in the structure.

The piece represents the diverse paths students take and the options they have to move in other directions.

“I couldn’t ask for a better piece of art,” he said.

Twin Cities-based artist Randy Walker glances up at his art installation called “Pathways” Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at the RCTC Plaza Courtyard in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Twin Cities-based artist Randy Walker glances up at his art installation called “Pathways” Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at the RCTC Plaza Courtyard in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

The colors and combination of simple pieces into a complex, layered design capture the diversity of the experiences students come to the school with and the convergences and divergences of paths they take while studying and learning.

Walker said he didn’t want to influence other people’s interpretation, but wanted them to understand how he was inspired by the space.

Simon Huelsbeck, a fine arts instructor at RCTC, appreciates Walker’s open-mindedness to the space.

“He comes into these spaces and he lives and he learns and he finds out about the people who use these spaces,” Huelsbeck said.

He agreed the piece reflects the diversity that makes the school and community stronger.

“I think it’s going to be an important part of who we are at Rochester Community and Technical College," he said.

Twin Cities-based artist Randy Walker speaks during a ceremony for his new art installation called “Pathways” Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at the RCTC Plaza Courtyard in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Twin Cities-based artist Randy Walker speaks during a ceremony for his new art installation called “Pathways” Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at the RCTC Plaza Courtyard in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Although the concept was simple, once Walker had a shape, connecting all the pieces took precision and planning. He thanked the planners, fabricators and installers who helped put the sculpture together and in place.

The piece has lighting from underneath which gives it more depth and dimension at night, Walker said. He encouraged everyone to return to see it at night.

“(The lights) illustrate it in a very dramatic way,” he said.

Walker was commissioned by RCTC to build the piece. The school put out a request for qualifications from area artists and then requested proposals from three among those.