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Outdoor Sculpture Exhibit Symbolizes Growth of Arts Programming at STLCC-Wildwood

September 13, 2010

Through a special project grant from the St. Louis Community College Foundation, the exterior of the Wildwood campus now features an outdoor art exhibition of five unique sculptures on loan from professional artists which will rotate annually.  

Patrick Vaughn, vice president of academic affairs, and Mark Weber, chair of visual and performing arts, wrote the grant proposal for the outdoor gallery. They believe the gallery will not only provide students, faculty, staff and the community with an exposure to sculpture, but that it also will  increase the visibility of and enhance the visual and performing arts programs at Wildwood.  Another goal is to develop relationships between the working artists who loan the work to the campus and the Visual and Performing Arts department.

The first of these sculptures, a garden column of glazed clay, was installed in May by artist Carol Fleming, who specializes in site-specific and one-of-a-kind artwork in clay.

“Since 1988, I have placed my artwork in residential, educational and corporate landscapes," she said. "At each site, the use varies. Some pieces are practical furniture while others become garden installation, fountains, or time-honored statements in creative sculpture. Whatever the function, my goal is to build a satisfying bridge between my client's imagination and the actual artwork installed to enhance a site design.” 

The column of clay is comprised of four smaller pieces stacked together. The exterior of the piece is finished with copper glazes to create variations in color and texture.

During the first week of June, three more sculptures were installed. “That Wrens Make Prey” was placed at the main entrance under one of the arches by its creator, Noah Kirby. The sculpture features two intricate cast iron wings fastened by wrought iron rings atop a concrete base.

Kirby believes that the Wildwood campus is an especially appropriate place for his work to be displayed. As a learning environment, he thinks it is important that students are exposed to diversity and different ideas in their real surroundings.

“The campus’ emphasis on sustainability is obvious," he said. "Having the sculpture embedded on the campus grounds speaks of sustaining our culture as well as our environment.”

The large center ring is recycled from Stupp Brothers Bridge Building Co., one of the oldest bridge building companies in the country, and is hand-forged wrought iron. The wings were created by melting down old radiators and brake drums and the base is concrete which, by origin, is made from 60-70 percent recycled materials.

At first glance, visitors might not readily recognize the third piece as a sculpture. It is Allison Ouellette-Kirby’s interpretation of an old-fashioned emergency call box and stands near the flag pole at the main entrance.  Instead of a telephone located inside the call box, the viewer sees an ear.  The artist said it represents a person’s need to be heard and relate to one another and of the sometimes futile nature of an attempt to reach out and communicate.

On the corner of the front lawn stands the fourth sculpture entitled “Aspiration” by Snail Scott. The 7-foot bronze figure with airplane wings that suggest arms stands atop a wheel embedded in the ground. She uses the concept of engineering to symbolize the human endeavor to create what we really desire. 

“Wishful thinking, made manifest,” Scott explained. “The wings stand for transcendence, but the wings are manmade and thus created, not granted.  This is the tension that exists between our dreams and our limits.”

The last sculpture traveled 300 miles from its former site in at Oakton Community College outside of Chicago. The sculpture by Eric Lindsey is entitled “Chicago River Landscape” and was inspired by an opening drawbridge near the artist’s studio. 

Made of granite, the piece originally began as one big block which the artist separated into three pieces with a diamond saw. 

“The challenge is making the piece look portable, which was what I wanted,” explained Lindsey, “but strong enough to stay together once it’s on site.” 

Lindsey was happy about the placement of the piece, which is at the end of the main walkway to the south entrance, because viewers can see the sculpture from all angles, and its placement encourages people to walk all the way around it.

The campus celebrated the installations with a special reception Sept. 8.  Students, faculty, staff and members of the community enjoyed touring the campus to see the sculptures and speaking with the artists about their work.

The five sculptures will remain on campus for at least one year. The rotating nature of the exhibit gives students the opportunity to view different examples of artwork for evaluation and inspiration, and to explore in a dynamic environment the concepts of public art, outdoor sculpture, and the interaction of the environment and the aesthetic to the campus.