Experimenting with Public Sculptures

By John Buckley 

Walk around campus this week, and you’re destined to run into a variety of public sculptures. Don’t be surprised if they do not fit the usual mold of representational stone standing statues. Inside buildings and outdoors in the natural environment are seven student-made constructions—breathing masks wrapped around a tree trunk, soda cans hanging in the Jenks foyer—pulled together by students in Art 371, Experimental Sculpture. The pieces form new patterns within everyday environments.

Professor Jim Zingarelli, a sculptor who works in marble, granite, and limestone, teaches Art 371. He encourages students in the course to create “new forms of multiplicity.”

“Creating these sculptures immediately draws attention, because through them you’ve created pattern, order, a sensibility,” said Zingarelli.

The class discusses Stevie Schweighardt's piece in Lane

The class discusses Stevie Schweighardt’s piece in Lane

Take a tree with breathing masks around it, which stands outside the Ken Olsen Science Center. “So many people have come up asking what it means,” said student Edison Thayer ’16, who created the piece. The piece may have meaning, but it first serves another purpose. Instead of simply inspiring observers to ask, “What does this mean?” pieces like Thayer’s push the viewer to invent new ways of looking at spaces we pass through on a daily basis. “Sculptures operate three-dimensionally,” Zingarelli noted as he circled around Thayer’s piece. “You have to walk around it. It doesn’t just have ‘that’ point of view, it’s got ‘this’ point of view—and ‘this’ point of view.”


Student Edison Thayer’s experimental sculpture outside of the Ken Olsen Science Center.

The sculptures created by students Edison Thayer ’17, Sandev Handy ’16, Chapman Bettis ’16, Marin Butterworth ’16, Stevie Schweighardt ’15, Samantha Matthews ’15, and Lauren Chudnovsky ’15 will be in place through November 21. If you encounter one, take a moment to think about how it “speaks” to space it inhabits. “Often when people think of structures they think of a standard, permanent fixture,” said Zingarelli, “but the beauty of experimental sculpture is how it creates a rethinking of places we interact with.”

For information about the Gordon Art Department visit www.gordon.edu/art.

See more photos of the sculptures:

Piece by Lauren Chudnovsky ’15


The class discusses Sandev Handy’s piece.


Piece by Chapman Bettis ’16


Piece by Marin Butterworth ’16


Piece by Samantha Matthews ’15


Sketches for Chapman Bettis’s piece.








John Buckley ’15 is a writer for the Gordon College Office of College Communications, and Vice President of Communications for the Gordon College Student Association. Check out his most recent project: an online time capsule for the Gordon community. Submissions are open to students, alums, faculty, and staff until December 1.