For students, the University City Sculpture Series has become a rite of passage, a chance to explore the social aspects and civic responsibilities of being an artist. Since the project's inception in the fall of 1986, more than 200 students, 17 professors, 4 deans, 2 chancellors, 60 commission members, and 2 mayors have collaborated on it. The series is the longest-running partnership of its type in the United States and has produced almost 200 temporary public works. Throughout the years, projects have represented any number of mediums, from traditional sculpture to highly interactive works forged through community participation.
Participants gain valuable hands-on experience proposing works of public art for temporary installation. They choose locations, estimate costs, and design models. They make professional presentations before the city's Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters. Winning projects—funded by the city and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis—are constructed, installed, and unveiled.
The theme for the 2016 series is Boundary, an exploration of divides both tangible and intangible within the University City community. Boundaries within communities shape our daily actions and perception of the world around us. The following four commissioned projects will be located throughout University City and provide visual examination of anything from physical barriers to the cultural divides:
Light Cycle by Hannah Blumer, BFA16
Mending Wall by Dante Migone-Ojeda, BFA16
Conversation Tubes by Daniel Shieh, BFA16
Sandbox by Jessica Sun, BFA17
The 2015 University City Sculpture Series featured the following winning projects:
Golden in Silver by Jonathan Berger
Exhibition on view July 11-August 7 at University City Public Library
The project utilized a photographic art tool from the past—the tintype—to bring together people of the present. Earlier in 2015, Berger held several public events where citizens were able to tell their stories about University City and have their picture taken with a tintype camera. These pictures and stories are being featured in exhibitions, through the mail, and on the project website. Through this process, Berger hopes "we can begin to recognize the gold of University City, its citizens."
Hands of Change by Sarah Hull
Installed on Ackert Walkway near Ackert Park, 894 Leland Ave.
This project celebrates the activist role of citizens. The installation features concrete hands emerging from the ground along Ackert Walkway, holding large, semi-transparent historical photographs of activist moments in University City. "Activism requires a sense of ownership of one's community that goes far beyond the role of a resident and forces a community to come together to respond to an issue," Hull says.
Have A Seat: Say, What’s Good? by Madeline Marak
Installed in Millar Park, 7603 Carleton Ave.
Marak's research into the use of public spaces brought to light the responsibility citizens can come to feel about the spaces they frequent. Her installation consists of a colorful outdoor living room space, couch, chairs, and artificial flowers that provide a comfortable setting where community members can interact with one another. Marak believes that "as citizens, we don’t always get to choose where we live, but we can choose how we live in that place." The unexpected nature of her piece, she hopes, will encourage a greater sense of responsibility to the space, and foster questions and enjoyment.
Stockade by Jared Stein
Installed on Delmar Blvd. near Craft Alliance (6640 Delmar Blvd.)
This project reflects Stein's belief that "to be a citizen is to enter into a social contract with a given community." It looks at what happens when the community feels this contract has been broken, through a monument consisting of a large transparent Plexiglass stockade. Sited in the area west of Craft Alliance, the piece matches the traditional placement of the stockade—a central and heavily trafficked public space—and, according to Stein, should represent "the transparency of the modern judicial system and serve as a symbol of the social contract between citizens and the agents of the judiciary."
Watch a 1987 CALOP documentary on the beginnings of the series>>
2014 University City Scupture Series: Photos | News Story