APPLETON - Most manhole covers aren't much to look at.
But Appleton's public works department just installed a dozen new ones meant to inspire people.
"What we did is we made artistic, one-of-a-kind, custom manhole covers," said Lawrence University Art Professor Rob Nielson.
Influenced by the city's Compassion Project, Nielson came up with the idea for his art class.
"I gave the prompt to my sculpture students: depict some aspect of compassion," said Nielson.
One cover depicts an elephant befriending a mouse. Another, a hand holding out a kidney.
"It's very hard to be able to define compassion artistically especially within the space of a small, 17-inch circle," said Lawrence University Junior Sydney Pertl.
Pertl said the assignment was a challenge, but she enjoyed it.
"I chose one that has ripples all over it. It's, you know, what you can do with one good act of kindness and pass it on," said Pertl.
Manhole cover manufacturer Neenah Foundry made the molds for each design and created the new cast iron covers.
- Click here to view a photo gallery of the Lawrence University student-designed manhole covers.
Nielson says all 12 were installed in the sidewalk along College Avenue, rather than the street, so people could stop, look at, and admire them.
"I just hope that people in the community realize that public art can be big sculptures a man on a horseback but it can also be these beautiful manhole covers that have a utilitarian function. We need manhole covers anyway. They might as well be artistic and beautiful," said Nielson.
Neenah Foundry paid for the entire cost of the project.
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