A new sculpture was erected outside the Science Building in May. It is part of Elkhart’s Epic Art Adventures sculpture show, a local art series that is spotlighting local talent and getting art out in the streets in Elkhart County. The sculpture will live on campus for the year-long exhibit. 

“Conduit to Jupiter,” the new sculpture, is a creation by Goshen College graduate and former Physical Plant employee Orion Blaha. The sculpture stands over eight feet tall and is a depiction of a yellow spaceship. 

The name of the piece came from a former GC coworker of Blaha’s who used to claim dandelions were conduits for Jupiter. Blaha named the sculpture after the whimsical saying and chose to make the spaceship bright yellow as a reference to dandelions. 

Blaha said the idea for the subject matter came from a lifelong appreciation for astronomy and science fiction fostered by his father and other family. He drew from these areas for aesthetic inspiration. “It’s a big step away from anything I’d ever done before,” Blaha said when describing the manufactured engineered nature of the sculpture. Most of his work from the past fourteen years has been organic in style. 

Changing design styles meant implementing new construction techniques. Blaha utilized a local machine shop to print out the three stylized legs of the spaceship and used a large metal roller to create the ship’s round body. The sculpture also includes several steel ‘pillows’, welded steel pockets inflated with water under high pressure. These adorn the top of the structure. This process is used in the manufacture of large-scale machinery. Although Blaha has been interested in trying it for a while, this is the first sculpture of his that utilizes the technique. 

Moving forward, Blaha hopes to keep working with geometric sculptures. His new piece is his favorite of all the sculptures he has created, and he wants to continue to challenge himself to try and “tighten up” his work. He noted the different techniques required to end up with the hard edges and defined curves required of the style. Blaha may turn this piece into the first of a series or otherwise explore a more manufactured aesthetic.

In addition to a change in design approach, the work was a change in scale for Blaha.The artist explained how he had to use a chain hoist to move components of the sculpture around the studio during assembly and a forklift to move it over to its location at the Science Building. 

The result is an impressive steel creation that attracts the attention of those who pass by, adding interest to the academic plaza.

The outer space theme of the sculpture goes well with the building it lives in front of, but Blaha said this was coincidental. The work had been conceptualized before he knew where it would be installed. 

In reference to the sculpture being placed in front of the Science building, where budding astrophysicists and other scientists are beginning their academic journeys, Blaha said only: “Serendipity”.

Those interested in seeing more sculptures from local artists in the county-wide sculpture show can go to VisitElkhartCounty.com and navigate to Epic Art Adventures for more information.