Stuart Collection: Treasure hunt and journey of self-discovery
By Dave Schwab
Seeking sculptures in The Stuart Collection at UCSD that are sprinkled about the university’s 1,200-acre campus is one big treasure hunt.
Some sculptures, like Niki de Saint Phalle’s Sun God are obvious. Others, like the Jenny Holzer Green Table, are virtually hidden.
But whether overt or subdued, evocative or understated, the enjoyment in “discovering” each of the 17 public sculptures in the collection is in the search itself.
If you’re in a questing mood, do take advantage of the collection and see it for yourself. But expect to spend some time — at least the better part of a day – especially if you’re on foot as objects are scattered and not always easy to find. Treat it as a hike: You’re going to be doing some walking. Take along water and bring a snack if you like.
Best of all, prepare to transport yourself back in time to your school days as you traverse UCSD campus: You’ll feel like you’re a student again as you’re making the journey.
Plan out your sojourn. Even do it in sections if you like, as sculptures tend to be clustered.
At the end of the journey, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something. And, perhaps, the lesson that will be imparted is that the sculpture walk, like the educational journey to which it pays homage, is unending.
The collection, as describe on its website, “seeks to enrich the cultural, intellectual and scholarly life of the UCSD campus and of the San Diego community by building and maintaining a unique collection of site-specific works by leading artists of our time. It has been inventive in both its curatorial point of view and its working processes,”
The collection, resulting from a 1982 agreement between the collection and the university that was renewed in 2003, opened up the entire campus as sites for commissioned sculpture.
“The Stuart Collection gets its logic from its particular setting in a university community and its primary audience, people whose lives are being shaped every day by a process of observing, discovering, rethinking and debating,” said John Walsh, art historian, author and director emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum in alecture he gives titled “The Stuart Collection: Campus as Sculpture Park.”
“This helps to account for a lot of the devices these artists use and the messages they deliver. … It’s a key to the hide-and-seek quality of many of the pieces.”
In his lectures, Walsh concludes Stuart Collection works on campus “get embedded in the lives of the people who work and study here.”
Noting sculptures have important things to teach beyond the value of staying open to visual experience, Walsh notes they encourage everybody to “feel free to think imaginatively, to experiment with ideas. … These works of art do the first great work of the university: liberating students’ minds.”
A number of the works are featured in individual YouTube clips. Here’s one:
1983 Niki de Saint Phalle, Sun God
1983 Robert Irwin, Two Running Violet V Forms
1984 Richard Fleischner, La Jolla Project
1986 Terry Allen, Trees
1986 Nam June Paik, Something Pacific
1987 Ian Hamilton Finlay, UNDA
1988 Bruce Nauman, Vices and Virtues
1988 William Wegman, La Jolla Vista View
1991 Michael Asher, Untitled
1991 Jackie Ferrara, Terrace
1992 Jenny Holzer, Green Table
1992 Alexis Smith, Snake Path
1996 Elizabeth Murray, Red Shoe
1998 Kiki Smith, Standing
2001 John Baldessari, READ/WRITE/THINK/DREAM
2005 Tim Hawkinson, Bear
2008 Barbara Kruger, Another
The website for the collection at http://stuartcollection.ucsd.edu/StuartCollection/index.htm includes a clickable map showing locations and information on each piece at http://www-act.ucsd.edu/maps/
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