After spending a few months as an intern interacting with prospective students on a daily basis, one of the most common themes of our conversations has been about how unbelievably gorgeous WashU’s campus is. This is, of course, due to the gorgeous architecture (Mallinckrodt is the exception to the rule) and the amount of time and energy that the people at Top Care put into maintaining our beautiful gardens and green spaces. However, WashU has recently also been expanding its stake in public art. Although various sculptures have been around campus for years, WashU started a program in 2010 called Art on Campus, which is a percent-for-art program. Basically what this means is that for every new building erected on the Danforth campus, WashU also pays into a fund that helps to pay for public art projects. What’s even cooler, however, is that after the installation of each work of art has run its course, each piece will be added to the Kemper’s permanent collection. After doing a bit of preliminary research, I realized I hadn’t actually seen all of the art installations that had been placed on campus since Art on Campus started (Four in total). So the other day I decided to set out and find these works of art for myself (along with my two trusty sidekicks and fellow bloggers, Elliott and Michael).
The first work of art we came across was Ayse Erkmen’s Places, located outside of Cupples II. Now I had seen these interesting blocks basically every day since they were installed, but it wasn’t until I started writing this post that I realized that Erkmen designed this sculpture so that it could be interacted with- these concrete blocks covered in mosaic tiles are supposed to be sat and leaned upon, you’re supposed to be able hang out and read or even sleep on them. Keeping this in mind, Elliott and Michael jumped across them, planked on them, and eventually settled in this position for the photo.
Up next, we headed to Bauer/Knight Hall to view what is probably the most notable of the Art on Campus sculptures, the big silver dude hugging the world. This statue, formally known as Ainsa I was created by Jaume Plensa from stainless steel and is meant to symbolize the diversity found both in the Olin Business School and also the university more broadly. Pro tip: it’s also a great landmark on campus to use when giving directions to people who aren’t familiar with campus.
So here’s when the trip got a little messy- because we were simultaneously trying to take photos for my Art on Campus post, looking for the best places to nap on campus, and also playing Pokémon Go (all of the blog, of course—yay multitasking!), I didn’t actually find all of the art that I set out to find. So here’s a quick description of the remaining two pieces that are part of this program and can be found on the Danforth campus.
Housed on the second and third floors of Hillman Hall is Ann Hamilton’s O N E E V E R Y O N E, which is meant to recognize individuals and their varying personalities/experiences/thoughts/etc. Basically it’s a celebration of human diversity and, from what I found online, it’s also a super cool photography exhibit.
There’s also a painting hung in Umrath hall, which is entitled East Meets West and was created by Spencer Finch. In this work, Finch hopes to make the viewer consider and examine how individuals perceive the outside world. There was also a super cool process behind how Finch chose the colors for this work, which basically involved him travelling across America and using a meter to measure the most prominent colors in each area of the country.
So that concludes the grand tour of our Art on Campus. Of course, no post about the interesting sculptures found on campus would be complete without my personal favorite, the Bunny. To be fair, this sculpture is actually called Thinker on a Rock and was created by Barry Flanagan. Similar sculptures can be found in Des Moines, Utrecht, and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Basically the Bunny is the bomb and that’s the end of the story.
Anyway, even though I didn’t quite get to check out all of the Art on Campus pieces, the ones I did get a chance to see were pretty spectacular and I look forward to exploring the other art pieces on campus.