Life is long, art short
contrast to much of the landscaping going on around campus these
days (see "Chicago Journal," page 13), spring's most
eye-catching project was, from the beginning, only temporary.
Appearing on the morning of June 5, just above the tree line of
the main quadrangle, was a set of "sculpted panels of illuminated
white spandex." The press-release phrase may not have been
particularly felicitous but the effect of the sculpture-recalling
flocks of airborne mushroom caps or peaked pavilions or preternaturally
white sheets hung out to dry-was felicitous indeed.
the spandex panels formed a piece titled Illuminated Vortexes.
Created by Simon Miller, AB'01, as a farewell to the campus, it
was designed to provide a suitable setting for a post-Convocation
champagne toast. The press release announcing its installation
also announced that it would be taken down early in the week after
the College's graduation ceremonies.
Vortexes was not the first piece of quadrangle art by Miller,
a General Studies in the Humanities concentrator from Elko, Nevada.
Last spring he was the lead artist on another campus installation,
Extended Triangles Reflecting. That Plexiglass piece stretched
along the sidewalk outside Cobb Hall, and Miller called it a work
that both reflected and reshaped "the pre-existing flow of
motion" around the University's oldest building, "compromising
itself with the people who own the space." Miller also termed
the piece "Gothic." (You can judge for yourself, in
matter what passers-by thought of its artistic virtues and ingenuity,
Extended Triangles Reflecting was earthbound, something
one had to walk around, look down at. Illuminated Vortexes
floated, forcing viewers to lift their gaze. As a result, it was
an immediate upper, like seeing storybook clouds in a robin's
came and went, champagne was uncorked and consumed, the weather
stayed sunny and cool. And still the sculpture floated above the
trees in the quadrangle's northwest corner. At night the light
atop each vortex gleamed softly and the effect was of a school
of sailboats moored in a small, safe inlet.
a big storm blew in. The next morning the sculpture remained aloft
but several of its ivory panels were off-kilter, and suddenly
the thing looked like nothing so much as a giant set of adolescent
teeth fitted with braces. What was needed was an equally giant
orthodontist to adjust the "bands" of the apparatus-the
ropes and pulleys that anchored it to the trees. But no orthodontist
appeared, and it was plain that the sculpture's days were numbered.
A few mornings later a work crew appeared. Within an hour the
panels were lying on the grass, offering a temporary play space
for birds and squirrels. The next day Illuminated Vortexes
an annual competition sponsored by the Council for the Advancement
and Support of Education (CASE), the Magazine's February/01
issue, which featured several articles on the theme "Books"-including
English professor Jim Chandler's "The
Battle of THE Books"-won a Bronze medal in
the "Special Issues" category.
that issue, intern Bora Chang, AB'01, interviewed winners of the
College's Brooker Prize for book collecting about their current
collections. In her year at the Magazine, Bora, an English
language & literature concentrator from Cresskill, New Jersey,
wrote for almost every department. Now she has moved back east
to work as an editorial assistant with Kaplan in New York City.
We'll miss her.-M.R.Y.