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Outdoor art sculptures at IU Kokomo to enhance culture on campus

July 20, 2016

Installation begins this month for IU Kokomo’s new outdoor art, featuring seven sculptures from artists across the Midwest.

The artwork will be installed in the campus quad, on the east side of the Kelley Student Center, near Havens Auditorium, outside the Library, and east of Hunt Hall.

art installation on campus

James Johnson's "Steps of Machu Pichu" is installed on the IU Kokomo campus.  | Photo By MIKE GLASSBURN

Public art fulfills a campus mission of enhancing the culture of the community, said Gregory Steel, associate professor of fine arts, who helped select the sculptures.

“As a college campus, IU Kokomo is intended to enrich the lives of the people all around us,” Steel said. “It is our responsibility to be a cultural hub, a center for education, a center for arts and culture. We can become an important part in developing the culture we all want to have around here, and to make the lives of people around us better in ways they may not understand they’ve been missing.”

Steel and Minda Douglas, associate professor of fine arts, put out a call for entries, and then chose seven that will have visual impact, fit the locations designated for the art on campus, and are durable and well-constructed. Their plan is to have the sculptures on loan from the artists for two years, and then select new pieces.

“We wanted something large and colorful that would be able to compete with the trees and the buildings, to make a visual statement, and stand out,” Steel said. “We needed something that would not get lost. Unless you have an intimate place where smaller work can go, people won’t notice it. It’s like dropping a nickel in the grass. You won’t be able to miss these pieces.”

The sculptures, which range from 6 to 12 feet tall, include:

• Chili Pepper, painted aluminum and fiberglass, created by Jim Collins, Signal Mountain, Tennessee;

• Settling In, steel, Andrew Light, Lexington, Kentucky;

• Victoria, steel, Chris Wubbena, Jackson, Missouri;

• Crossroads, Kristin Garnant, Camanche, Iowa;

• Green Piece, epoxy coated steel, Nathan Pierce, Cape Girardeau, Missouri;

• Harmony, welded aluminum, Douglas Gruizenga, Interlochen, Michigan;

• Steps of Machu Picchu, cor-ten steel, James Johnson, Charleston, Illinois

Douglas is excited to have outdoor artwork available on campus.

“It’s going to add another layer to the culture,” she said. “That’s a piece of the puzzle that’s been missing. When people come to a college campus, they expect to see a lot of art. I think people will be surprised by how much it adds to the feel of the landscape.”

Addition of the sculptures is one more step to being an integrated part of the community, Steel said.

“We are becoming more than a place students go to take classes. We’re becoming more integrated in the culture of the community, and we’re bringing new life to it,” he said. “IU Kokomo not only teaches our students, but we go there for art shows, we go there to listen to music, we go there to see a play. Public art and sculpture is a huge step in reflecting a visual sensitivity towards the arts and culture.”

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