ARC art with workers

Workers installing the Alyson Shotz creation

Photographer: John Sattler

ARC low view

Atrium view of aluminum art piece

Photographer: John Sattler

Students with ARC art

Students check out "Angle of Incidence"

Photographer: John Sattler

Featured Stories

New art piece unifies Academic & Research Center disciplines

Aluminum sculpture suspended in atrium

After three days of assembly and installation earlier this month, Ohio University’s newest Percent for Art piece now shimmers and shines - 25 feet high in the living room atrium of the Academic & Research Center.

The sculpture, “Angle of Incidence,” is the work of Brooklyn-based artist Alyson Shotz, whose work has been collected by New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the
Whitney Museum of Modern Art, as well as Harvard and Yale universities.

A double-helix wave form of reflective acrylic-coated aluminum rods, the piece was funded by the state of Ohio’s Percent for Art Program, which provides for public works of art in public buildings with appropriations of more than $4 million.

College of Fine Arts Dean Charles McWeeny says the work is an important addition to the university’s collection. "It's terrific to have a major work by an artist as prominent as Alyson in our Percent for Art collection," he said. "This is a very dynamic sculpture that activates and enlivens the entire space."

Shotz's sculpture, which measures approximately 16 feet long and 11 feet high, is suspended in the main atrium of the ARC. Its square-shaped aluminum tubes are laminated with dichroic acrylic on all sides to transmit and reflect different wavelengths of light. 

According to Shotz, the result is an interference-effect similar to the iridescence in butterfly wings. Perception of the sculpture differs depending on a range of variables such as the amount and placement of light present, the time of day and year, and the floor on which the viewer is standing.

Shotz says she chose the shape because it is important to the various disciplines housed in the ARC and acts as a unifying symbol. 

"The helix is a form found throughout nature. It's similar to half of a strand of DNA, a helix describes a mathematical curve in three-dimensional space and it's similar to a wave - which is the form of light and sound," she said. 

A New York fabrication company, DCM Fabrication Inc., began the fabrication process of Shotz's piece in December and completed it in June - in part thanks to DCM employee and 2004 School of Theater alumnus Jason Kalus.

"It was a complete coincidence that Alyson, an artist we've done a lot of work for in the past, was doing a new sculpture for my alma mater. As a Bobcat, it was exciting to see art from my new home, New York City, in my old home, Athens," said Kalus, also an engineering student at New York University's Polytechnic Institute.

The sculpture was shipped in individual pieces in a large cardboard coffin and assembled in the ARC living room. The installation crew then used a 32-foot scissor lift - moved in via the ARC's project hangar floor hatch - to temporarily install the 1,400 pound sculpture with a chain hoist before attaching permanent cables.

"The most challenging and interesting aspect of the sculpture was making something with such a unique shape hang in the air in a safe, yet aesthetically appealing way," Kalus added.

Other Percent for Art pieces in the Ohio University collection include "Input" by Maya Lin, an earthwork at Bicentennial Park adjacent to Walter Hall; "Truisms" by Jenny Holzer, LED displays and granite pieces at Gordy Hall; and "Poindexter Village" by Aminah Robinson, terrazzo flooring on the first floor of Baker University Center.

The Percent for Art Program began in 1990 with Ohio legislation to provide funds for the acquisition, commissioning and installation of works of art for new or renovated public buildings with appropriations of more than $4 million. More than 100 public art works have been completed across the state.