A new art installation is adding to one of the first new public spaces in Tysons Corner.
Tysons Corner Center owners Maecerich commissioned artists Peter Winant and Tom Ashcraft to create the piece, titled “Early Bird,” for the new public plaza that is part of the redevelopment of the mall property to align with the Silver Line.
“We wanted as part of the plaza to create this downtown community environment,” said Bob Maurer, senior manager marketing for Tysons Corner Center. “We want people to come to the plaza and have it be a respite for their busy daily life.”
Public art is one of the components called for in the Tysons Comprehensive Plan to help create a sense of place as the area redevelops in a more urban fashion.
Winant and Ashcraft are assistant professors and the associate chairs of George Mason University’s sculpture department. They have experience developing public art projects as part of a group called Workingman Collective.
Early Bird consists of about 60 life-sized bird sculptures placed throughout the plaza. The cast bronze figures represent indigenous birds: cardinals, crows, mourning doves, hawks and robins.
Often, public art in this type of space involves one large piece that “gets plunked down in the middle of the plaza,” Winart said. “We thought we would do something much more intimate.”
The artists collaborated on the forms for the birds and then worked closely with New Arts Foundry in Baltimore to cast the bronze birds.
The title Early Bird came from Intelsat, one of the tenants of the first new high-rise office building at Tysons Corner Center, Ashcraft said. Intelsat put the very first geosynchronous satellite in orbit, which was nicknamed Early Bird.
“We just thought, ‘That’s it,’” he said. “It just makes so much sense for this site.”
Winart and Ashcraft said they hope people will enjoy discovering and experiencing the sculptures as they move through the space.
“[Public art] makes you rethink where you are. Hopefully, it keeps you curious,” Ashcraft said.
Part of the commission for the project will be donated to Mason’s art scholarship fund.