AUSTIN, Minn. — Hormel Foods Corporation on Thursday unveiled "The Inspired People Plaza" at its global headquarters in Austin, Minnesota.
The centerpiece of the plaza is a 1-ton, 25-foot-tall fork sculpture created by artist Gordon Huether. The statue is clad with nearly 20,000 forks, representing and donated by Hormel Foods team members worldwide. It is located on the front lawn of 1 Hormel Place and serves as the anchor of the new outdoor plaza. The plaza's name is a nod to the company's purpose statement, "Inspired People. Inspired Food."
The sculpture is rich with meaning, including being emblematic of the 131-year-old Hormel Foods Corporation.
"Food is at the center of all we do and who we are. Food has the power to change lives, lift up communities and bring people together," said Hormel Chairman, President and CEO Jim Snee. "Our team of 20,000 inspired people donated the forks to create this visionary work of art, representing the power that food has to make a difference in the world. This sculpture is dedicated to them and to the community of Austin, our hometown since 1891."
The project had its genesis nearly two years ago. Deanna Brady, executive vice president of Refrigerated Foods, was one of the company leaders interested in finding a way to honor the part food plays in nourishing bodies, and also minds and spirits.
"It can transform lives, build communities and change the world," Brady said. "When you think about the special moments in our lives, food is there. There is incredible power in it – the sharing, the creating, the sitting down and talking. We're honored to be part of that."
Armed with a purpose, the team began its search for an artist to bring the vision to life. The search brought them to Napa, California, and the studio of Gordon Huether. For 40 years, Huether has produced multimedia works of art, especially large, public installations that spotlight cities, regions, companies, universities and more. His wife and business partner, Darcy Huether, was born in Austin, Minnesota, and several of her relatives previously worked for Hormel Foods. For her, it was a sign the partnership was meant to be.
"To me, it speaks a lot about the values of Hormel Foods that art is important to life, and about their vision in wanting to create a major public artwork to brand their headquarters and embody the company ethos," Gordon Huether said.
Once the design was determined, the call went out for team members to send in all manner of forks "for a future surprise." Nearly 20,000 forks cover the surface of the sculpture, one for every Hormel Foods global team member.
The 2,000-pound, 25-foot-tall fork sculpture was transported from Napa to Austin on an 18-wheel truck.
The sculpture and the Inspired People Plaza was dedicated at a company event Thursday on the front lawn of the Hormel Foods world headquarters.