Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Unconventional sculpture creates buzz on campus

The art department’s contributions to the new Fouts Center for Visual Arts have inspired artistic contemplation in some students and genuine confusion in others. The meaning of art professor Michelle Acuff’s scaled statue of David paired with an oversized orange chain has created quite a buzz.

“I heard that the chain was supposed to look like a necklace: for the building… for David?,” said senior Shawn Kelly.
While many students can only claim hearsay, others have attempted interpretation of the piece.

“I think it is a metaphor about the contrast between the structuralistic idea of psychology and the Gestalt theory,” first-year Katelyn Sorensen said. “The art of the chain and David combined is worth more than the wall on which it is mounted.”

Professor Acuff is delighted that Whitman students and community members are discussing the art.

“It was intended to be a conversation piece,” Acuff said.

Asked to contribute to two tiles for the façade of the new art building, Acuff opted for a more dynamic statement.

“It is a slightly foreign task for me to put something inside of a square, but I saw it as an opportunity for new thinking, for a new experience,” Acuff said.

Acuff refrains from imposing a specific interpretation of the artwork on any viewer. Assembling the parts of this sculpture, however, “was not an arbitrary process. It’s allegorical and functions on many levels,” Acuff said.

“The ‘pendant’ of David points both to a deeply important classical past as well as to a complex present, where culturally specific great works of art can be replicated with staggering ease and made available for purchase world-wide through the Internet,” Acuff said.

The piece is also intended to reflect what goes on inside of the art building and what ideas students play with.

“These are the complicated issues students of art face in a world where sculpture is no longer an object in space but rather the means by which the position and meaning of things becomes possible,” Acuff said. “This work celebrates that knowledge, the rich set of questions it begs and our powerful attempts to create coalitions of material and meaning.”

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