“And the seasons they go ’round and ’round,

And the painted ponies go up and down.

We’re captive on the carousel of time.

We can’t return we can only look behind.

From where we came,

And go round and round and round In the circle game.”

― Joni Mitchell, The Circle Game

Carousel, a sculpture in painted and perforated stainless steel and aluminum, was recently installed in the center of the roundabout at the intersection of East Rosedale Street at Mitchell Boulevard. Created by the husband and wife artist team of Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii, it stands a little over 24 feet in height and 14 feet in diameter. This stationary carousel sculpture is activated by the experience of driving around it, which turns the ordinary event of traveling through the area into a distinctive experience.

When beginning a project, Hirschfield and Ishii search for a theme; something about a place that inspires and directs their design.  They describe this as “finding an inherent truth that lends itself to becoming visual metaphor”.  Their projects succeed through strong aesthetic designs that engage the viewer in a process of discovery and providing a multifaceted and meaningful experience.

The artwork is inspired in part by the artists’ fascination with carousels, which are a delight to children, and a source of nostalgia for adults. Its theatrical quality references the Jubilee Theatre, which was originally established in this community, as well as the theatre department at Texas Wesleyan University.  Its six large, colorful parrots are a reference to the mascot of nearby Polytechnic High School and the importance of education at all levels. Finally, Carousel is meant to serve as a metaphor for the circle of life with all of its ups and downs.

Jim Hirschfield and Sonya Ishii have worked as a team for nearly three decades and together have created over 40 public artworks.  Jim Hirschfield teaches at the University of North Carolina and served as Chair of the Art Department from 2010-2017.  He has received major awards from both public and private foundations, including awards from the National Endowments for the Arts (NEA), the North Carolina Arts Council, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. He has a long history in public art and currently serves on the Public Art Network Advisory Council. Sonya Ishii began her professional career as an artist on one of the early design team projects in Seattle, Washington. She too has received a number of awards, including two North Carolina Artist Fellowships. Together, Hirschfield and Ishii have created public art projects ranging from freestanding sculpture to sculptural environments.


See other new projects currently underway by visiting the Art In Progress page.