Columbus Convention Center Sculpture Promises To Turn Heads

Sep 1, 2017

The Greater Columbus Convention Center completed a $140 million expansion and renovation this week, which includes the unveiling of 200 original pieces of local artwork to decorate the center. But it's a 14-foot-tall sculpture that will likely become the face of the project.

"As We Are," an interactive LED sculpture, was designed by Columbus artist Matthew Mohr and will display the faces of visitors on a 3D shape-shifting head. The sculpture sits at the northern-most atrium of the Convention Center, at the corner of Goodale and High.

A station at the back of the "neck" captures the likeness of people, and the head will rotate whose face it shows. Mohr, who responded to the city's call for proposals, says the goal of the sculpture is to show the city's diverse community. 

"If you come to Columbus, how do you engage this city? How do you interact?" Mohr says. "And then how can we show in turn a little bit of respect and a bit of welcoming presence?" 

The installation also plays in contrast to the contemporary debate over historic monuments, Mohr says, through the sculpture's democratic, participatory nature.

"On the base level, I want them to have fun. I think if everybody walks away seeing this 14-foot version of themselves and thinks that's cool, that's just fine," Mohr says. "On the next level, though, I think seeing yourself magnified to that scale can be pretty intense. And I think it talks to the state of our culture, when you think about social media, this is a very interesting, unique time."

Already Mayor Andrew Ginther and former mayor Michael Coleman have lent their likenesses to the project, and other community leaders will likely appear as well.

Matthew Mohr, the Columbus artist behind "As We Are," says he was inspired to showcase the city's diversity.
Credit WOSU TV

Mohr says he spent two years working on the project, and the Boston-based Design Communications Ltd. built the sculpture itself. He expects it to last about 7-10 years, but says some of its functions have yet to be revealed.

As part of the renovation, the Convention Center added 100,000 square feet of meeting space and 37,000 square feet of exhibit space. A press release from the Convention Facilities Authority says the center now boasts the largest contemporary collection of Franklin County art.

Learn more about "As We Are" and the Convention Center art collection this season on Broad & High.