The Big Fork

Hormel Foods Corporation | Austin MN | Stainless Steel, 20,000 Dinner Forks | 25’H | 2022


Hormel Foods Corporation’s purpose statement, “Inspired People, Inspired Food” is the inspiration for Gordon’s recent installation The Big Fork at Hormel’s world headquarters in Austin, MN. The unveiling took place on September 15, 2022, during Hormel’s Spirit Week, where the 25-foot tall stainless steel sculpture, embellished with 20,000 forks contributed by Hormel employees, is centrally displayed on Inspired People Plaza, a new gathering spot on Hormel’s campus. The work acknowledges the ‘power of food’ as a source of nourishment, cultural expression and reflection of Hormel’s legacy of innovation, quality and integrity.

“We wanted to show how proud we are to be a global branded food company,” said Jim Snee, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of the company founded 131 years ago. “At the same time, we were intent on recognizing our team members and the millions of people throughout the world who play a role in feeding us all.” For Gordon, the commission “speaks a lot about the values of Hormel. They agree that art is important to life, and I was pleased to realize their vision of creating a major public artwork to brand their headquarters and embody the company ethos.”

The internal structure of The Big Fork was fabricated in Germany and then shipped to Napa for the application of 20,000 individual dinner-sized forks. The meticulous process of welding took team members nearly a month to complete. The one-ton sculpture was then loaded onto a flatbed truck and delivered to Austin, a trip of 2,000 miles.

There is a particularly personal aspect to this story, as well. Darcy Huether, Gordon’s wife and GHS Director, was born in Austin, MN and her grandfather, along with other family members, worked for Hormel for most of their professional lives. No one at Hormel knew of this connection when Deanna Brady, Executive Vice President of Refrigerated Foods and other company leaders began their search for an artist. Their hunt led them to Napa, CA and Huether and the shared surprise and delight of this connection was instantaneous once discovered. Darcy and Gordon’s personal relationship to Austin and Hormel helps make this food inspired installation just a little bit sweeter.