AU art professor brings history back to the Augusta Canal area

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A local artist and professor is building an art structure to signify Augusta's past.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- If you head to the Augusta Canal trail anytime soon, you might notice something different. A local artist is creating the canals' first piece of public art.

You could say AU professor of art and humanities Brian Rust was meant to be an artist. In fact, it runs in his family.

"A lot of these things you do -- public art. They're celebrations of community," said Rust.

His current project is a celebration of Augusta's history, and there's no better place for it than right next to the Augusta Canal.

"I wanted to make sort of a stone replica of the Petersburg boats."

If you can't figure out what it is up close, Rust says to move a bit back. He tells News 12 it's being repurposed as a seating area.

"My shortest description is its halfway in between a Peterburg boat and stone hedge," Rust said.

In fact, when people ask what it is, he'll ask what they see.

"Then once they see it from the ends, they recognize that it's a boat."

Creating it was kind of like a puzzle -- digging, arranging, and embedding pieces of stone to create the stone boat, inspired by cargo boats that once sailed the Canal.

"There's kind of a sense of history about it, and it ties back into the canal and its original use and this idea, this general sense of history to it."

Almost every slab of granite is from the Garden City. Some of them were once curbstones that lined the city's streets.

"I'm just looking for it to be a place where people can come. They can meet here. You know, like, 'let's meet at the boat!'"

You can see it at the Mill Village Trail Head. That's right behind the Kroc Center, near the Eve Street Bridge. The Canal Authority plans to unveil the project on May 31st.