Sac State students showcase staggering steel stegosaurus

$25,000 public sculpture ‘#Poppy,’ an experimental first in line with art department’s future curriculum


Emily Rabasto - The State Hornet

Sacramento State senior studio arts majors Chris Duffy and Tiffany Boddeker speak at the unveiling ceremony of their 16-foot by 16-foot steel “neopop” sculpture of a stegosaurus named “#Poppy” at the intersection of Brighton and Ramona Avenues Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.

Emily Rabasto, Managing editor

The newest product of Sacramento State’s art department also happens to be its most ancient.

“#Poppy” is a 16-foot tall steel sculpture of a colorful stegosaurus created by senior Sac State studio art majors Chris Duffy and Tiffany Boddeker and the first of what they hope to be many public art projects coming straight out of Sac State.

Duffy and Boddeker said their team and themselves worked at the sculpture lab on campus from May through October, combining their creative efforts and construction skills on the $25,000 commission from the Power Inn Alliance to build the full-steel public art piece.

According to Boddeker, the “Neopop”-style dinosaur is made entirely of “thin-walled tubing, pencil rod, sheet steel and expanded metal,” which was welded together by Duffy, their team of lab workers and herself.

“#Poppy” is the first public art piece created by current Sac State students as an experiment for a two-part course, which plans to be officially added to the art department’s curriculum in fall 2019, according to Andrew Connelly, an art professor and graduate coordinator at the university.

If the implementation of the course goes as planned, Connelly says the class will be titled “Art in Public Places,” and labeled in the course catalog as ART 176A and 176B.

Connelly said “#Poppy” went through several redesigns to make it a piece that the community could view as a positive addition.

Duffy said the inspiration for the steel sculpture came from putting his daughter to bed one night.

“At the beginning of this class, we were all charged with coming up some ideas that we were going to pitch,” Duffy said. “As I was putting my daughter to bed, she had stegosaurus pajamas, and I just thought, ‘Dinosaurs. That’s what it is.’ ”

Connelly said because the structure sits within a traffic circle, the piece needed to be somewhat transparent so drivers are able to view oncoming vehicles.

The dinosaur’s frame and spines are decorated with a bright color scheme in “graffiti-proof paint,” which Connelly said was done purposefully to not only protect the surface of the steel, but to ensure that it could be power washed easily if vandalized or marked.

Duffy said he has many fond memories while creating “#Poppy” with his creative partner Boddeker.

“Tiffany took pieces of sheet metal, cut them into the shape of flowers and hit them with a hammer (over an anvil) for eight hours straight,” Duffy said.

Revealed at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, the piece’s final display area is at the traffic circle of Ramona and Brighton Avenues in front of The Crossings, an off-campus student residence.