The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Sunday, July 15, 2001


Sculpture is lasting gesture
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Jordan-born store owner thanks city
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By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

Nahed "Ned" Seder is an American citizen and has learned to translate his affinity for metaphors in English.

But Seder retains his Arabic accent and his English sentence structures can be awkward.

"I am an American but I will always have my accent, so I am always a foreigner," said the Jordan-born Palestinian who came to the U.S. in 1990.

That hasn't prevented the Hermitage man from running a successful business in Farrell, a city of immigrants and descendants of immigrants from Italy, Croatia, Africa, Germany, Greece and many other foreign locales.

It was tough when Seder, his father, Awni, and brother, Nader, first opened Ned's Super Market -- the former Rainbow Market -- in 1990 at Wallis Avenue and Roemer Boulevard.

Anti-Arab sentiment was high from Operation Desert Storm and the Persian Gulf War, he said.

But Seder overcame the opposition by taking an interest in his customers and learning their names.

Seder is flamboyant and cares about people and their thoughts and feelings, said friend Jeff Greene of South Pymatuning Township.

"Ned is very real with everyone he comes in contact with," Greene said. "He makes a connection."

Seder, who splits his time between the Shenango Valley and Jordan, wanted to thank Farrell for accepting him, accent and all.

"I want to pay my respects to the people and city of Farrell," he said.

He found the way to do it when he walked out of his store about two years ago, and saw a small patch of grass across Roemer on city building property.

He could envision a sculpture on the site, an unlikely thought for a man with little interest in visual art.

"If you take me to a museum, I wouldn't go," he said.

But a sculpture would afford him two things: a way to represent his feelings in abstract form, and permanence.

"If I put a page of thanks in the paper, in one day it would be gone," he said. "Sculpture is eternity."

The sculpture was unveiled Saturday during the final day of Farrell's Centennial Celebration.

Seder, 38, had settled on what he wanted, but wasn't sure how to get it done. He started calling numbers he ran across in the telephone book.

Of the calls he made, only Greene, whom he didn't know at the time, returned his call. Greene and his wife, Laura Mae, make and install stained glass windows.

"On the phone, I said, 'Sure we do sculptures,'" Greene said, even though the truth was the opposite.

But the idea intrigued Greene, an architectural draftsman for HHSDR Architects/Engineers, Sharon, and he had taken classes on sculpture in college and at the Hoyt Institute of Fine Arts, New Castle.

His role would be the same as with Greene Glass, his business which takes other people's ideas and expresses them in glass. "It's just a different medium, different materials," he said.

Greene asked Donna Kissinger, who makes jewelry but has designed glass for Greene Glass, to design the sculpture.

The project also was Ms. Kissinger's first involvement in sculpture.

"It's nothing I ever thought I would do," she said. "I set out to make jewelry for people to wear."

Seder, who has coached soccer at Kennedy Catholic and Grove City high schools, wanted to show a sense of local and world community, and the ethnic diversity of Farrell.

"He was grateful that the community of Farrell had welcomed him there and helped him so much," said Ms. Kissinger, of Sharon. "He wanted to show that working together of people."

"It's a celebration of Farrell and trying to put forward all the best qualities of the city," Greene added.

Seder said he had no idea that the city's centennial was coming up when he announced the sculpture, but agreed with city council that the unveiling should be part of the celebration.

"It fits for the celebration," he said.

The main image is a steel sphere cage -- representing longitude and latitude lines. You can look into the sphere and see a solid, blue fiberglass sphere that lights up. The world's continents, made of copper, are attached to the inner sphere.

Four arcing supports hold up the spheres, and are attached to a limestone base.

"That came from my jewelry background and how to set a stone," Ms. Kissinger said.

The base is etched with the words "strength," "cultures," "spirit" and "industry."

The work is about 6 1/2 feet tall.

Installers still have to attach three lines of copper tubing -- some say they represent air currents -- surrounding the outer sphere.

"To me, my idea when I was drawing this, it symbolized the unity of people around the world," Ms. Kissinger said.

Although Seder had never met the Greenes or Ms. Kissinger prior to the sculpture project, they have become good friends, getting together monthly. Greene said Seder, who is Muslim, has added to their understanding of their Christian beliefs because he has been to some of the places mentioned in the Bible.

Seder said he hopes the sculpture will help change the image of Arabs and Arab-Americans in the area. He said 80 percent of the small neighborhood stores in Mercer County are Arab-owned, and Arabs have a reputation for not putting back into the community.

"I want to change that," he said. "I can say this is from the Arab-American community."

Seder has titled the sculpture "Together We Can Make A Difference" and dedicated it to his daughter, Nadeen, who turns 2 next month.

Henrietta Peagler, a Youngstown resident and Sharon graduate, praised the sculpture.

"It's a good thing for the community," she said. "I believe it may inspire others in the community to do good things."

Mayor William Morocco found the work patriotic.

"To someone who is new among us, he's already learned what it is to be an American," Morocco said.

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