Michael Finch

Location: Downtown Springfield Pocket Park – SE Corner of South Ave. & McDaniel St.

Guardian III references commercial and popular culture depictions of tigers while weaving in the artist’s heritage through homage to Southeast Asian foo dogs. Both foo dogs and tigers hold significant cultural value in Southeast Asian art, symbolizing guardianship of space and asserting cultural strength. By adapting these symbols, the sculpture introduces a modern perspective on Asian-American space into the public sphere. Constructed with a steel armature layered in lath and stucco, echoing the construction techniques employed building homes in the upper Midwest, homes that often housed immigrants, including the artist’s own Vietnamese
ancestry. In this way, Guardian III not only visually contributes to the public space but also carries layers of cultural and personal narratives within its form and construction. Another facet of the sculpture is its cartoon stylization. The simplistic form functions as a representation of creativity and play, featuring interactive black stripes coated in enamel chalkboard paint. This transformative element turns the sculpture into accessible “mini canvases” suitable for all ages. Unlike imposing public sculptures, the deliberate scale of Guardian III actively encourages public interaction, fostering a welcoming atmosphere for passersby.