Students were welcomed back from Fall Break by a new sculpture outside the University Museum of Art on State Street. At 53 feet high and 23,000 pounds, the addition is tough to miss.
The piece, called Orion, is on long-term loan from artist Mark di Suvero, an abstract American sculptor known for his large, geometric works. The work was previously being shown in one of di Suvero’s exhibitions in Chicago’s Millennium Park.
Museum of Art Director James Steward emphasized the prestige of having the piece on campus, calling it “a real boon to the University.”
“In our curatorial opinion, and the views of many global experts on sculpture, Mark di Suvero is one of the perhaps three or four most important sculptors working today,” Steward said. “We moved quickly to be able to accept his offer even before final construction is complete on the building.”
Steward said benefactors of the museum are fans of di Suvero’s work.
Students were across the board on their interpretation of the art, saying it looked like everything from a person to a slingshot. Many said they just didn’t know what it was. In fact, the sculpture is inspired by its namesake, one of the largest constellations in the sky.
“Does the work resemble the form of Orion the archer? That’s surely up to the viewer,” Steward said.
Though the work may be important, some students said it didn’t fit into the Central Campus landscape.
“I was on my cell phone walking by Angell Hall when I saw it. I said, ‘Oh my gosh I have to call you back, there’s a terrible monstrosity in front of me’,” Public Policy junior Elam Lantz said. “Who thought that this would go well in front of Angell Hall? It’s a completely different style.”
Steward said students should think about the work in relation to “their understanding of their physical environment.”
“Of course we recognize that abstract work can be difficult,” Steward said. “But we feel that challenging work is appropriate to a great university environment.”
Museum officials said they expect several more outdoor pieces to join Orion when the museum reopens this spring, possibly including another di Suvero work called “Shang.”