Letters, lobbying save quad sculpture
Patrick Dougherty's twig sculpture, Simple Pleasures,
situated prominently on the central quad, will remain for the second semester
of the 2001-2002 school year. In her introduction to the piece, museum
curator Alison Ferris wrote, "we initially planned that work would
stay up through the fall, however, many people have suggested that it
stay up a little longer." Students, faculty and staff extensively
lobbied the Public Spaces Committee via Bowdoin College Museum of Art's
director, Katy Kline, and as a result, Ferris' and others' goal was accomplished.
The sculpture will now remain in front of Searles and Pickard Theater
through the changing winter and spring seasons.
President Barry Mills was also influential in the sculpture's
extension. Many people emailed Katy Kline after a campus-wide email was
sent, asking for support for the movement.
"There was this massive flurry of emails--180 came
in one day--and some were copied to Barry Mills too because the day after
that, he announced at the administrative staff luncheon 'Alright already,
I've heard enough about the sculpture, we'll keep it up through the spring,'"
Just letting Dougherty construct the work on the quad in
the first place was a significant accomplishment. Kline said that the
committee was "uneasy about starting a precedent of allowing sculptures
on the quad." Ferris explains that much of it had to do with the
natural and sensitive nature of the construction. "Given Dougherty's
reputation as an artist and his sensitivity to the architecture, the Public
Spaces Committee decided to make a one-time exception to the principle
that the Quad remain untouched."
The five interconnected conical structures--made entirely
out of saplings and twigs and held together only by the tension the structure
itself creates--has enjoyed many positive responses, as well as gawk-eyed
stares from the Bowdoin community and others visiting the campus.
Steve Popper '03 enjoys not only its aesthetic value but
its interactive opportunities as well. "I rode my bike through it
that was fun," he said. Eric Goldwynn '03 waxed nostalgically
of its transcendent value, saying, "Its Edenic qualities leave me
yearning for the days of yesteryear."
The sculpture will not last much longer than the next semester
however, partially because Dougherty estimates that it will only be able
to last for a year. Kline also stressed that people should consider the
piece as a sculpture; a work of art with a significance that goes beyond
its form and that is tied the temporal circumstances surrounding it, particularly
the seasons. She stressed that it should not be thought of as a permanent
structure, but confirmed, "it will be up through the spring when
we will evaluate how it is holding up."
Also, in light of the terrorist events this fall, the extension
of the sculptures is due to more than simply the aesthetic or artistic
value. Ferris said that because they were constructed in the midst of
the September 11 tragedy, they "have become, for many, a symbol of
a moment and event that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives."