Posted: July 8, 2021
Last modified: February 21, 2022

Mark Aeling is excited for Altamonte Springs’ Cranes Roost Park visitors to discover the area’s latest art piece.

Wearing a straw hat to keep cool from the Florida sun as he puts the finishing touches on his 19-foot, stainless steel sculpture, Aeling said it was designed to create a narrative for guests.

“From certain angles, it becomes abstract, and you see the interesting shapes. But as you look around it, the image becomes clear,” Aeling said.

“What would be more appropriate than a roosting crane?” he asked.

The artwork, named “Nurture,” was commissioned by the I-4 Ultimate Improvement Project Art Endowment Program – an initiative that set aside $1.5 million to fund permanent art installations in various cities and counties along the corridor.

The city of Altamonte Springs selected Aeling from the hundreds of artists who submitted entries. The entire process from artist selection to sculpture installation took about a year and a half. Fabrication alone took three months.

The sculpture comprises hundreds of components and weighs 13,000 pounds. It is made entirely from flat metal plates that have been shaped by water jet cutting. The sculpture is large enough for drivers on Interstate 4 (I-4) near Cranes Roost Park to see it, too.

“I’ve done a number of pieces to this scale before, but this one was very complicated,” Aeling said. “We had to keep transportation in mind and be able to drive it up the I-4 corridor. Stainless steel is also very challenging to work with. It is a durable material, but it is very fluid when introducing heat from welding into the process.”

Although it is complicated, Aeling is no newbie to the process. The St. Petersburg native started creating art at a young age and stuck with the craft, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and then opening his own workshop, MGA Sculpture Studio.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to make the piece and appreciate Altamonte Springs selecting me and I-4 Ultimate making the opportunity available,” Aeling said.