Monday, May 20, 2024

New art sculpture breathes life into campus

By Nadia Paschal

If you’ve been around campus this semester, you may have noticed the newest art installation. Located outside of the John Myers Fine Arts Building, this vibrant sculpture adds some much needed color just in time for the dreary days of winter.

Aptly titled “Static Vestige,” this bright and vivid piece can first be noticed by its striking blue color. This piece is especially significant because it was created by two SUNY Plattsburgh alumni. Ben Jose and Andy MacDonald both graduated in the 1990s, receiving degrees related to fine arts. 

Aside from outdoor sculptures, such as the one seen on campus, Jose also dabbles in other forms of art, such as 2D and 3D works, as well as running his own foundry, Benjamin Bronze Studios.

MacDonald was in charge of the graphic overlay of the piece, given his experience in the commercial illustration field. Much of his experience is with comic books. However, his passion for his work shines through no matter the medium. 

“I create visual, sequential narratives that tell a story, convey a meaning and hopefully connect with an audience that appreciates something more than prose and distinct from motion pictures,” he said. 

Drew Goerlitz, an associate professor who is an instructor for the sculpture classes, had already established connections with the artists, as he had previously worked on a project with Jose. Goerlitz was the curator for this piece, and was responsible for finding the artwork and ensuring its availability. 

One of the most important factors in displaying such a large piece was determining where exactly it was going to be located. Tonya Cribb shared that it was important for the sculpture to be visible and close to the John Myers building. 

“It would be great for people that are driving down Rugar Street to be able to see this sort of monumental, really eye-catching work of art,” Cribb said. 

Those involved were also incredibly grateful for all of the work and help that the maintenance crew provided, considering it was such an unusual request. The grounds crew helped to put together the piece and made the whole process easier and faster. 

While hoping for it to bring attention to what the art department has to offer, it was also placed there for practicality. 

“Putting it in that location was the safest way to do it,” Cribb explained. 

The elevated surface as well as the bed of rocks it has been placed on allows for it to be safe from not only foot traffic, but anything else that could damage it, such as lawn mowers or snow plows. 

The sculpture itself was also built to withstand any harsh weather conditions, which is useful for the coming winter months. 

“The challenge with outdoor art though, is that it has to last,” Goerlitz shared. 

It is just a temporary piece, as the contract with the artists allows it to be here for two years, but it seems to bring a new energy to the campus. This contemporary sculpture reflects the direction that the campus is moving toward. 

“We’re more colorful than the ’70s. The artwork does reflect that,” Goerlitz shared. 

Despite the current lack of funds and understaffing that the art department is facing, the staff remains hopeful that more pieces like this can be displayed in the future. There are numerous factors that impact these kinds of decisions, including manpower, space and interest displayed by alumni. “Static Vestige” symbolizes a new era for the campus. 


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