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Aspirations and the Japanese Character Justice with Companion Sign

Kay McFarland Japanese Garden and Venue

Japanese Garden and Event Venue at the

Topeka Zoo & Conservation Center 

Topeka, Kansas

August 2020 to May 2022


The starting point of this sculpture was when Elaine and Howard Schwartz, who are the trustee’s of the McFarland trust, suggested to Brendan Wiley, the Topeka Zoo Director that he might take a look at the website of Joyce Steinfeld. Brendan was attracted to a bronze cast sculpture called “Aspirations”. With this input, Joyce created a fabricated metal sculpture with the Aspiration Shape on the top, sitting on a cube with an artistic interpretation of the Japanese character for Justice. This particular Japanese character is used in informal settings as opposed to the character used in a court room. Each side of the cube had an artistic composition using this character, as a flower or a plant in a landscape.


After the main sculpture was finished, it felt like there needed to be a companion artistic sign to go along with the sculpture.  Something that would explain the symbolism in the sculpture and also tell in a more direct way about the life of Kay McFarland and her connection to Elaine and Howard Schwartz, who have helped make the legacy of the garden and venue possible, and so the design work began for the sign. The space that this sculpture and companion sign usually live in, is rented at times for parties and wedding receptions, so they had to be easily moved and relocated for the event time and a routine was developed to accomplish this easily and still allow for the works to be viewed and appreciated.

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