GREENFIELD, Mass.- A sculpture made from used wheelchair parts and crutches is sitting on the Town Common making a statement about freedom for those with disabilities.
James Kitchen of Chesterfield said the sculpture will stay there until September, when it will be moved to Springfield, where it will remain permanently.
Kitchen was commissioned by Stavros Center for Independent Living, an agency that helps those with disabilities gain more freedom by doing things like building ramps onto people’s homes. Stavros has offices in Hampden, Hampshire and Franklin counties.
“Lois Brown of Stavros contacted me and asked if I could create something that would bring awareness to people in the three counties,” said Kitchen.
He said the sculpture was on display in Northampton during July, will be on exhibit in Greenfield through Aug. 31. “It’ll end up with some of my other babies,” said Kitchen, who has about 60 pieces on display in the Massachusetts Development building in Springfield and about 40 others spread throughout the city.
“I agreed to do the sculpture when I realized what Stavros’ mission was,” said Kitchen. “It’s all about freedom for those with disabilities.”
Kitchen, who has been creating sculptures using recycled metal for about 16 years, said he’d never created anything out of aluminum, such as the wheelchair parts and crutches.
Kitchen said it took him about nine months to collect the materials and then bolt them together.
He said the piece on the common starts with smaller wheelchair pieces that meld and build into bigger ones.
“On top, I used a bunch of aluminum crutches that come off the piece like wings — again, a symbol of freedom and movement,” he said. “I wanted the piece to give people a sense of motion, like people in wheelchairs progressing up a ramp.”
Kitchen said he wanted to help bring attention to Stavros’ cause.
“It’s wonderful and I’m so happy to be a part of it,” he said.
Kitchen said he was on vacation in Wells Beach, Maine, when he discovered his passion for sculpting.
He said he was on the beach when he started balancing rocks absentmindedly. He said a New York art professor came by and asked who the artist was and Kitchen realized, at that moment, that he would leave his job at a book publication company in Northampton and become an artist.
He said he typically welds scrap metal to create his pieces and usually collects materials from the Deerfield Transfer Station and Douglas Auctioneers in Deerfield.
In May, Kitchen’s piece, “Deerfield Valley Crane,” a 35-foot bird sculpture, won “Best in Show” at the 18th annual Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton.
Kitchen displayed his 3,000-pound sculpture of Saturn, which took five years to complete, at the Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange in 2009.