(Not so) hidden art on campus

April 18, 2012

Art installation brings surprise, beauty to Forest Grove campus.

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It’s hard to miss the bodies coming out of the grass.

Two human-shaped torsos and a single arm are reaching out of the west lawn in front of Pacific University’s Marsh Hall this week. They are a clear-white plastic, sort of what the Invisible Man would look like if wrapped in Saran Wrap instead of bandages. (I’m sure that there’s a name and explanation for this art style: feel free to teach me about it!)

The would-be bodies appeared Wednesday next to the plaque in the grass that commemorates the pioneer cemetery that once stool on the property, as well as the family whose remains are still interred on the grounds.

“Day after day you likely walk by here without ever noticing that this lawn is, in fact, a graveyard,” reads a sign posted with the sculpture. “The purpose of this piece is to draw attention to this fact by, for lack of a better term, bringing the location to life. Now, I suppose you won’t be able to look at this location the same way?”

Nearby, perched in the weeping cherry tree between Scott and Marsh halls, is a matching piece. “Mother Earth” is a full body, lying on its side, hands neatly folded under its head in a sleeping position.

“For as long as there have been people, there have been trees, both living together in harmony,” reads its sign. “We need each other to survive and this piece is here to remind you that we need nature just as much as it needs us. Go Green!!!”

Both sculptures are works of a group project in Junko Iijima’s Sculpture I class, according to their signs.

I love that classes at Pacific are using art to raise awareness. Even more, though, I love the seeming tradition of art integrated, temporarily and without warning, into the campus environment.

From the ever-changing Spirit Bench to these types of installations (there was another by a different class this fall), there’s a little suspense to the daily act of coming to campus.

Because this intentional art might be waiting, I look a little closer, notice a little more. And see not only what man has made but what beauty is already around us.

Have you seen any other pieces of this project?