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Zephyr by Steve Wooldridge

Zephyr by Steve Wooldridge

TITLE: Zephyr
ARTIST: Steve Wooldridge
DATE: 1998
MATERIALS: stainless steel
DIMENSIONS: 13′ x 2′ x 10′
TYPE: sculpture

Zephyr (1998) is composed of seven shapes, each signaling a different meaning. According to artist Steven Woolridge, the rectangular base represents the core of education; the side-by-side cylinders refer to the wheels of progress; the triangle symbolizes a mode of transportation designed for speed; the small cylinder that supports the hoop signifies fortitude and determination; the hoop itself stands for the circle of life; the long pole represents ambition; and the hollow scroll stands for knowledge.

What do you reckon it all adds up to? What story might Woolridge be trying to tell? And why did he choose to dedicate the piece to today’s youth?

In Greek mythology, Zephyrus was the personification of the west wind, the bringer of light spring and early summer breezes. The Greeks are central to our imagination of progress. The wind is a force. It can be refreshing but also disruptive. It can be chaotic, but it can also be harnessed.

In Iroquois tradition, by contrast, the west wind is brought by the Panther, ugly and fierce.

How might the Iroquois understanding help us think about the nature of progress in light of certain ambitions? Are there new winds that can help us achieve the balance this sculpture demonstrates? What kind of knowledge and ambitions would we necessary to harness them?

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zephyr_(Wooldridge), which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”


The South Tower by Don Gummer

The South Tower by Don Gummer

TITLE: The South Tower
ARTIST: Don Gummer
DATE: 1998
MATERIALS: Stainless Steel
DIMENSIONS: 10′ x 2′ x 3′
TYPE: sculpture

On his way to his New York studio one autumn morning in 2001, Indiana-raised Don Gummer saw the South Tower of the World Trade Center fall during the 9/11 terror attacks. “It’s seared into my memory,” he said.

The South Tower (2008), Gummer’s 10 foot tall aluminum sculpture memorializing that moment, is an example of how art can be used to work through a trauma that is both personal and public. The leaning, quivering S-shape of the stainless steel that emerges from vertically-louvered design confers a sense of the inevitable in a moment that many of us never imagined was possible.

Gummer has won awards from the American Academy in Rome, the National Endowment of the Arts, and the Tiffany Foundation. His works are generally large in scale, complex, and benefit from sustained experience over time. Together with his wife, the great actor Meryl Streep, Gummer is also an activist philanthropist. His sculpture, Open Eyes (2011), is also installed on campus.

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_South_Tower_(sculpture), which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”

Spirit Keeper by Steve Wooldridge

Spirit Keeper by Steve Wooldridge

TITLE: Spirit Keeper
ARTIST: Steve Wooldridge
DATE: 2007
MATERIALS: stainless steel
DIMENSIONS: 6.5′ x 3.2′ x 3.2′
TYPE: sculpture

Abstraction can trigger resemblance. What do you see in Spirit Keeper (2007) by Hoosier artist Steve Wooldridge? A sail? A leaf? An ear? A flower petal? A flame? Or something else?

What you see doesn’t have to remain fixed, of course. As we change over time, so does our perception of things.

Our experiences offer up potential for remembrance and connection, giving us new ways to perceive, engage with, and understand our world so long as we remain open to possibilities.

Wooldridge graduated with a degree in sculpture in 1963, at what was then known as Herron Art Institute. Spirit Keeper was donated to IUPUI in 2007 by Norma Winkler, owner of Indianapolis’ Rock Island Refining Corporation, which produced the stainless steel for this sculpture. If you like this piece, be sure to check out Zephyr (1998), another Wooldridge sculpture on campus.

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_Keeper, which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”

Mother’s Helper by Derek Chalfant

Mother's Helper by Derek Chalfant

TITLE: Mother’s Helper
ARTIST: Derek Chalfant
DATE: 1998
MATERIALS: stainless steel, bronze
DIMENSIONS: 15′ x 8′ x 3′
TYPE: sculpture

Can you discern all the forms that figure into Indiana-born Derek Chalfant’s provocative Mother’s Helper (1998)? Let’s start from the top: a baby’s high chair extends downward via exaggerated legs to the ground where it transforms into a rocker, straddling what appears to be a recumbent Christian Cross. At the head of the cross, there are two bronze objects: a baby and a cast of the “Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.” How might these pieces come together to tell a story, ask a question, or make a statement?

According to Chalfant, “the high chair represents nutrients needed for life, the rocker symbolizes rest and nurturing, the baby with its head on the dictionary represents knowledge, and the cross is a symbol of spirituality—all ingredients needed for human growth.”

Can you imagine other ways of arranging these ingredients? Are there other ingredients for human growth that you might include?

A Herron alumnus who is now associate professor of art at Elmira College in Upstate New York, Chalfant’s research includes designing and making sculpture and furniture specializing in wood and metal fabrication, as well as casting metal and glass.

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother%27s_Helper_(sculpture),  which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”

East Gate/West Gate by Sasson Soffer

East Gate/West Gate by Sasson Soffer

TITLE: East Gate/West Gate
ARTIST: Sasson Soffer
DATE: 1973
MATERIALS: stainless steel
DIMENSIONS: 23′ x 30′ x 17′
TYPE: sculpture

Sasson Soffer’s East Gate/West Gate (1973) acts as a fulcrum for one of the main courtyards on the IUPUI Campus, its ceaseless swirling loops amplifying the dynamism of campus life.

Although it may appear at first as one entangled unit, follow the lines from any point on the stainless steel piping to discover a pair of figures locked in a kind of dance, repartee, or conversation.

Gates normally exist to grant or bar entrance to a place, announcing and policing boundaries. East Gate/West Gate is situated well inside the bounds of the university, however, paying no heed to traditional border markings. Instead, East and West are infused. Access points are not singular or static, but multiple and dynamic.

How might this piece help us re-imagine borders in more dynamic ways?

Soffer (1926-2009) was an Iraqi-American abstract painter and sculptor of Jewish heritage who studied under the artist Mark Rothko in New York. (If you are an admirer of the work of Paul Klee or Joan Miró, see if you can spot their influence on this piece.)

On loan from Newfields, the sculpture was delivered, via helicopter, in 2009.

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Gate/West_Gate,  which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”