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Lehi sculptor, couple work together on memorial for infant cemetery

LEHI — A new sculpture will grace an infant cemetery, and the models for the artwork have a deep, personal connection to the subject.

In 2013, sculptor Scott Stredbeck was commissioned by the city of Lehi to create a sculpture for the city's newly added infant cemetery.

When Streadbeck, a Lehi resident, started the sculpture, he wanted a family from the city to be the inspiration. He found Chris and Robyn Shelton, who had lost an infant son, and asked them to model for the piece.

The Sheltons said the experience brought them closer to their son Collin, who was born a few months prematurely and died a few days afterward, according to the family. Collin isn't buried in the Lehi cemetery, but the Sheltons said this sculpture will help them remember their son.

"You're always grasping for things you remember," Chris Shelton said. "This is another thing or another place that will help us remember him."

Streadbeck said he worked on his “Close To Heaven” clay sculpture for almost a full year and completed it Monday. The sculpture of parents with a baby stands at 7 ½ feet tall, 45 inches wide and 28 inches deep. Bronzing the art piece will take around 90 days, and it will be installed in the Lehi Cemetery later this year, Streadbeck said.

Streadbeck hopes the statue will be uplifting for grieving families, as do the Sheltons, who saw the sculpture for the first time this week.

"These infants that have passed away are still part of someone's family. They're still important to them and they're not forgotten," Robyn Shelton said.

“For my artwork, I wanted to have a positive impact,” Streadbeck said. “I’ve always wanted my artwork to be positive and calming — the things that celebrate life and celebrate people. The idea that this is going to provide them some comfort is wonderful.”

Streadbeck has a rich history of sculpting. His uncles and father started the Adonis Bronze Foundry in 1988, and Streadbeck became familiar with the trade. He began sculpting while attending Brigham Young University, and he has been creating the artwork professionally since 2004.

Streadbeck started his own business, Mainstreet Art, and creates sculptures from clay before having his uncles bronze them at their foundry. He said he enjoys being involved in a family business.

“It’s really been a real blessing,” he said. “You know each other so well. You can trust each other so well. You know something is going to get done if it needs to be.”