Beginning in 2011, the Northfield Arts & Culture Commission and the Northfield Public Schools began to collaborate with the goal of increasing visibility and value for the arts through the addition of public sculpture to the community. The Northfield Public Schools and the Arts and Culture Commission have received an Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund grant through the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC) for a high school public sculpture program called the Young Sculptors’ Project (YSP).
The Young Sculptors’ Project (YSP) is made up of a team of artists including 15 interested high school student artists, an established Minnesota sculptor, and a college art apprentice. The artists and students meet to work weekly on the Young Sculptors’ Project sculpture in the Art Department and Industrial Tech Department at Northfield High School from September until May. The sculpture is then installed by the City of Northfield on a base in front of the Northfield Public Library. The artwork is displayed for two years in the downtown streetscape and then moved to a courtyard sculpture garden at Northfield High School near the previous SEMAC-sponsored YSP sculptures.
This project offers interested visual art and industrial technology students the opportunity to create, learn and grow alongside professional and emerging artists while building a large scale public sculpture using mainly metals for construction. This artistic medium is challenging and one of the most difficult art forms to create, especially in a group collaborative setting. The installation of this biennial sculpture is becoming an anticipated event for community members, young and old. The current YSP sculpture is called "Waist Deep" and was created during the 2017-2018 school year by Northfield High School students alongside Minnesota foundry, steel and fiber artists, Justin and Karen Peters. This sculpture is installed in a central downtown location that is physically accessible to all in the greater community.