Arts & Entertainment

Edison Arts Society Plants a ‘Sculpture Garden’ at Papaianni Park

Edison sculpture Credits: Gloria S. Dittman
Edison artist Fernando Silva cuts forms from steel sheets Credits: Gloria S. Dittman

EDISON, NJ - Rising from Papaianni Park’s green lawns is a contemporary steel depiction of an American family, the latest eye-catching creation from internationally-recognized artist and township resident Fernando Silva.

The steel sculpture – aptly named “The Family” – is the start of what Edison Arts Society President Gloria S. Dittman hopes will grow into a public sculpture garden at the 15-acre municipal park.

On Wednesday (June 27) at 6 p.m., Mayor Thomas Lankey will join Arts Society members and township officials to unveil the first sculpture at the municipal park located between Central Avenue and Municipal Boulevard, near the Edison Municipal Complex. The public is welcome to attend.

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“Great communities like Edison deserve great art that’s accessible to residents and visitors,” Mayor Lankey said. “Art should capture people’s imaginations and make them think. Mr. Silva’s creations accomplish those goals.”

Dittman explained that Silva’s design for “The Family” includes a father and mother of equal height to symbolize equality. The couple is holding hands to represent unity; their daughter holds a dove as a sign of peace; and their son carries a copy of the Constitution to represent liberty.

A 15-foot iron tower, covered in 1,000 ceramic tiles, that will stand near “The Family,” has 50 stars cascading from its peak, one for each state, Dittman said. “Fernando’s design and creation is inspired and insightful.”

In 2016, Silva created two large, ceramic tile murals depicting Edison’s history and culture at the Municipal Complex’s main entrance. And, since Lankey became mayor in 2014, a third-floor hallway in the Municipal Complex has become a gallery that displays the works of area artists. 

“Edison is fortunate to have a Mayor and Township Council who appreciate the arts and graciously support the Arts Society’s efforts,” said Dittman, noting that sculpture garden has been in the works for over a year and that she received advice and assistance from the Lankey Administration.

From concept to completion, Dittman said “The Family” is a $50,000 public art investment, most contributed by area businesses including Federal Business Centers, American Water Co., Clayton Block Co., PNC Bank, Certified Kitchens, Picture-It Awards and Reilly Financial Group of Woodbridge, among others.

Three more artists from Edison and Woodbridge have expressed interest in creating sculptures for Papaianni Park, but Dittman said “as always, the issue is funding. It’s an expensive endeavor.”

For more information about the Edison Arts Society and its public sculpture garden project, visit or call (732) 548-9134.

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