• Build A Dream Maquette
  • Fabrication
  • Fabrication
  • Installing at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 31st Street.
  • Installing at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and 31st Street.
  • Richard Hunt working on installing.
  • Richard Hunt working on installing.
  • Build a Dream installed, photo by Alexander Kravets

Build A Dream


The name of this piece, Build a Dream, gives us clues about what the sculptor is saying through his art: a message about energy and hope, aspirations and accomplishments.

Notice the base: It’s strong and stable, with steps that climb higher and higher. Above it are sweeping forms, also reaching up, becoming increasingly complex and beautiful. It suggests that if we build on a solid foundation, we can accomplish amazing things.

Visitors to Hunt’s stunning work can contemplate what the steps are that support ambitious dreams. A vision comes to mind, certainly, as do preparation, perseverance, resiliency and the support of other people.

The artist’s dream isn’t the only one in play with Build a Dream. It is a focal point of the transformation of a once-blighted area into a thriving, mixed-use neighborhood. Explains the sculptor: ”The community is rebuilding, and the sculpture will suggest something being built.”

Audio Tour: Hear Hunt tell you about his piece

Newport News Television Video: Unveiling Build a Dream

Transcription of Audio Tour:
My name is Richard Hunt. I am the sculptor of Build a Dream. It’s a sculpture made of welded stainless steel, about building and dreaming. It has a stepped base that I call architectonic, and then forms rise up from it, suggesting kind of a more organic, ambiguous sort of dreaming, mixing the real, the built, and the imagined environment that leads to further development.

The piece is of course placed in a location that signals kind of the beginning of a redevelopment effort in the area and signals, I hope, a sign of things to come. I’ve come to see sculpture and public art in general as a way of adding to the vitality of communities, and I hope this sculpture is no exception.

My beginnings as an artist go back to my childhood. I always liked initially to draw and paint, and then as a high school student, I was advised by a painting teacher that sculpture might be an interesting thing to try, and indeed it was. I was fortunate to have a very important, engaging teacher, a woman named Nellie Barr, as my first sculpture teacher, a woman who was a fine sculptress and actually worked very well with students, and my interest in sculpture grew.  The idea of working 3-dimensionally as opposed to 2-dimensionally was an exciting new development for me, and I determined at least to continue to pursue that. During this time, I was going to what was called the Junior School at the Art Institute of Chicago. I went on to go to college there, and decided during that time to concentrate on sculpture. And while I’ve done some graphic work throughout my career, the major focus has been sculpture. And after starting with modeling, and a little bit of carving, I decided early on that working directly in metal was the best way for me to express the ideas I had about sculpture, form, and space, and the ideal way of realizing these ideas in 3 dimensions.

photo by Melanie Sochan

Artist: Richard Hunt

Details: Stainless steel, 20′ tall. Made in Chicago. Installed 2011.
Site: Intersection of Jefferson Avenue and 31st Street

About The Artist: RICHARD HUNT

Richard Hunt loved to draw as a child and was steered to sculpture by a teacher who sensed what came to be true: that once Hunt experienced creating in three dimensions, he would never go back to two.

After Hunt graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the James Nelson Raymond Foreign Travel Fellowship made it possible for him to spend a year studying in Europe. He became, at the age of 35, the first African-American sculptor to have a major solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1971.

Among the other museums at which Hunt has had exhibitions are the Cleveland Museum of Art, Milwaukee Art Center, Art Institute of Chicago, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Museum of African-American History in Detroit, and the Oklahoma Art Center. The public enjoys more than 100 of his abstract expressionist works in cities and towns, on schools and campuses across the United States.

Today, Hunt works in a studio on Chicago’s North Side that was once a train system substation — a space big enough to accommodate the monumental works of art that are his specialty.

In recognition of his remarkable career and accomplishments, Hunt was awarded the International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award in 2009.

Hunt’s Website: www.richardhuntstudio.com