For members of the Middlebury College community who are looking for a way to interact with the process of siting and interpreting works of public art on campus the Committee on Art in Public Places (CAPP) offers an avenue for individuals to make their voices heard.
While the members of the committee are determined mostly by appointment or through ex officio status, on occasion members of the college community are invited as guests to advise on projects with which they have some tangential involvement. In addition, each year in the fall the departments of History of Art and Architecture and Studio Art each elect two student representatives to serve on CAPP.
Members of the college community are encouraged to contact individual members of CAPP to voice opinions, concerns, and questions regarding public art on campus.
The Middlebury College campus is home to one of the most important public art collections of any American liberal arts college.
Middlebury’s distinguished campus collection of public art includes 19 works—mostly sculpture—by 19 different artists, many of them nationally or internationally known.
Each work is an accessioned object in the collection of the Middlebury College Museum of Art, and each piece in the collection of public works on campus is installed, maintained, and interpreted by the Committee on Art in Public Places (CAPP), which is chaired by the Director of the Museum.
We encourage you to learn more about the works on campus and the artists who created them, to interact with the collection in meaningful ways, and to engage members of the Committee on Art in Public Places with active dialogue, questions, concerns, and praise.
Youbie Obie, 1972–75, 1985
15 1/2 x 15 1/2 x 6 feet
Gift of James and Lauma Katis. 2013.094
Location: South lawn of Coffrin Hall, adjacent to Le Chateau
“Several of the early years of my childhood were spent within walking distance of New York City’s Museum of Natural History and the adjacent Hayden Planetarium. Installed on the ceiling of an anteroom to the planetarium dome was a working mechanical model of the solar system. I was mesmerized by this kinetic representation of the various planets and their moons, moving in their respective orbits about the stationary sun. Embodied within this one display were lessons in scale and increment, mechanics, materials and construction, architecture and design, all relevant factors, I would eventually discover, to the making of sculpture.” —J. Pindyck Miller
This reminiscence of an early experience of childhood wonder lies at the heart of J. Pindyck Miller’s sculptural enterprise. Combining aesthetic perception and an appreciation for the sheer volume of information conveyed by a model of the solar system, the artist became a proponent of articulate formal organization at an early age. Arranging shapes into elements of composition that seem self-contained but also refer to something larger and more significant has always been at the heart of his artistic practice. Youbie Obie, one of the more self-reflexive of his large scale works, refers in its title to the forms that comprise it: an inverted “U” is punctuated by sectional fragments of “O’s.” As passersby circumnavigate the work, its changing profiles demonstrate a lively syncopation. Seen face-on, in its broadest dimension, the sculpture resembles a gate. Foreshortened when viewed from its narrowest sides, it collapses into arcs and counter-arcs. Placed here, it serves as a dynamic entrance to the northern section of the campus.
In the early 1970s Miller constructed the original Youbie Obie in aluminum, painted white. The material was light enough to permit its transport from one site to another, and it was reconstructed and exhibited at Storm King Art Center, in Mountainville, New York, and at galleries in and around Westchester County as well as New England. In 1985 this Corten enlargement was commissioned by its donors for their home in Greenwich, Connecticut. A trademark designation for steel alloys that produce a raw, unpainted surface that weathers naturally in a warm rust color, Corten became a favorite sculptural medium for artists like Richard Serra and Anthony Caro in the 1970s. It was first used architecturally in 1964 for Eero Saarinen’s John Deere Headquarters in Moline, Illinois, and has subsequently been used in the construction of the Chicago World Trade Center as well as the new Barclay’s Center sports and entertainment arena at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New York.
A 1960 alumnus of the college, Miller studied psychology, American literature, and art as an undergraduate. After receiving his degree, he went on to study the techniques of welding and sculptural fabrication at the Silvermine Guild School of Art in Connecticut and at the Brooklyn Museum School. A world traveler, he served in the U.S. Army in the early 1960s, making three-dimensional models and charts for teaching conferences and training annuals. Since 1964 Miller has lived in Putnam County, New York. In addition to making large-scale metal sculpture, he also makes collages and relief sculpture using canvas, wood, cardboard and other diverse materials.
View of the Principal Elevation of the Column of Trajan, 1774
View of the Principal Elevation of the Column of Marcus Aurelius, ca. 1776
Etchings on paper, six sheets each
Acquired by Middlebury College c. 1900
Location: Reading Room of the Axinn Center at Starr Library
Trained as an architect in his native Venice, Giovanni Battista Piranesi went to Rome in 1740 and became a prolific printmaker. A lifelong champion of Rome, he was an enthusiastic polemicist in the eighteenth-century debate as to whether Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome was the more significant source of Western civilization. These magnificent prints of the Imperial Columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius are to be considered within that context, visually underscoring the greatness of Ancient Rome.
Piranesi’s Elevation of the Column of Trajan (ruled 98–117 CE) shows the frieze that wraps around the entire column, depicting scenes from the two campaigns that Trajan undertook against the Dacians in what is now Romania. At the top of the column Piranesi fancifully restored the long-lost statue of the Emperor, standing on an elaborate base of the artist’s own invention.
The Column of Marcus Aurelius (ruled 161–180 CE) is a monument modeled after the Column of Trajan. On this column the frieze depicts scenes from the two campaigns that Marcus undertook against the barbarian tribes that inhabited lands north of the Danube. Piranesi, faithful to the original, includes the post-Antique statue of St. Paul that in 1588 had replaced the long-lost ancient statue of Marcus atop the column.
Middlebury College acquired the two Piranesi prints here displayed for the inauguration of Starr Library in 1900. They bear testimony to Middlebury’s longstanding commitment to public art as a meaningful component of higher education.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi (Italian, 1720–1778), View of the Principal Elevation of the Column of Trajan, 1774, and View of the Principal Elevation of the Column of Marcus Aurelius, ca. 1776, etchings on paper, six sheets each. Acquired by Middlebury College c. 1900.
Ornamental Rock, China, Anhui Province, Lingbi County, limestone with carved wood base, height: 44 inches. Purchase with funds provided by the Barbara P. and Robert P. ’64 Youngman Acquisition Fund for Asian Art, 2004.023. Location: Davis Family Library, 2nd Floor, East reading room
China, Anhui Province, Lingbi County
Limestone with carved wood base, height: 44 inches
Purchase with funds provided by the Barbara P. and Robert P. ’64 Youngman Acquisition Fund for Asian Art, 2004.023
Location: Davis Family Library, 2nd Floor, East reading room
Appreciated for their contorted shapes and fissured surfaces, ornamental rocks have been collected in China since the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E.–220 C.E.). Small rocks were displayed on scholars' desks, while the largest ones were incorporated into gardens. They thus played an ornamental role analogous to that of figural sculpture in the West.
The connoisseurship of rocks was intimately bound up with philosophical notions of transformation and concepts such as yin (negative) and yang (positive), and xu (emptiness) and shi (solidity). Rocks from Lingbi are prized not only for their fantastic forms, but also for the resonant sound they produce when tapped.
Mural of Cosmic Geometry, 2010
Synthetic oil, based on 2009 suite of sixteen linocuts
Executed by Colossal Media, New York
35 x 35 feet
Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy and matching private donations
Location: East wall of Wright Memorial Theatre
A well-known printmaker and Middlebury College alumna, Sabra Field has never previously adapted her work to the large scale and public environment of an outdoor mural. The catalyst for this project was Kate Lupo ’10 who thought a work such as Cosmic Geometry was the perfect remedy for the blank east façade of Wright Theatre.
Cosmic Geometry in its original form is a suite of sixteen prints that depict an array of cellular, plant, animal and architectural patterns in a grid and grouped in themed quartets that depict spiraling, tiling, branching, and scaling. The images themselves represent subjects that range from the Duomo in Florence and the Pantheon in Rome to a spiral nebula and an electric spark.
CAPP is chaired by the Director of the Middlebury College Museum of Art. The core of the committee is comprised of the standing members of the Museum's Collections Committee. In addition, the committee includes the following ex officio members: VP for College Advancement, Chair of the Middlebury College Arts Council, Associate VP for Facilities Planning, the Director of the Arts, the Museum's Exhibitions Designer, the Operations Manager of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, a treasurer and two trustees of the college as designated by the President, two elected student members from the Department of History of Art and Architecture, and two elected student members from the Program in Studio Art.
R. Saunders, chair
D. Perkins, Clerk
H. Chamberlain ’12
N. Clifford, Friends of the Art Museum representative
C. Cotton ’12
A. Doucette ’12
R. Graham, trustee member
J. Horvitz, trustee member
R. Lapham, Arts Council chair
K. Lee ’12
J. Chester Young
This slide show offers a visual overview of the works of public art that have been placed around the Middlebury campus. For more detailed information about each individual work please visit the Artists and Exhibits page.
I dreamed I could fly at 3,876,225, 1984–1992
Acrylic on urethane foam, 19 1/2 x 58 x 39 inches. Gift of the Overbrook Foundation. 1995.009
Location: Lobby of the Mahaney Center for the Arts
Although Jonathan Borofsky’s I dreamed I could Fly at 3,876,225 may initially seem ominous—the sculpture of a human figure appears just to have leapt into space—the title confines this flying figure’s mission to the realm of dreams.
Borofsky acknowledges that almost all of his art consists of self-portraits; he has explored the concept of dreaming in his work since the early 1970s. He often includes imagery culled from his dreams, as in I Dreamed I was taller than Picasso at 2,047,324 (1973). Counting systems, implied by the large numbers in the titles of many of his works, are also a recurring theme.
(Photo: Tad Merrick)
I dreamed I could Fly at 3,876,225 places the fantasy world of the dream in juxtaposition with the concrete and conceptual act of counting. In this whimsical sculpture, Borofsky seems to create a visual record of one moment in an endless series of moments, both real and imagined.
The Middlebury Panther, 1997
Bronze, over life-size. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Phillip H. Morse and Shelley H. Morse, Class of 1995. 1997.022
Location: Youngman Field and Alumni Stadium
The symbolic function of animals has made them ubiquitous presences in western art. Rulers often commissioned sculptures of their heraldic counterparts from the animal world and used them to represent either themselves or their realms. No image evoked greater awe—from antiquity through the nineteenth century—than equestrian statues of rulers astride a horse.
American colleges and universities typically have animals that serve as their mascots. The black Panther was chosen as Middlebury’s after a local merchant established a contest to choose an appropriate symbol for the college in 1922. The sculpture was commissioned from the artist and is sited at the entrance to Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. Surveying the playing fields, the Middlebury Panther is a fierce beast, apparently stalking its prey from atop a mighty boulder.
(Photo: Tad Merrick)
So Inclined, 2007
Red maple saplings and grey dogwood. Commissioned as a temporary deposit by the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy.
Location: Front lawn of the Mahaney Center for the Arts, on view 2007-2011
An internationally known artist who has produced site-specific works in a variety of private and public locations around the globe, Patrick Dougherty created So Inclined at the entrance to the College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts in September 2007.
(Photo: Tad Merrick)
Working in full view of all who passed by, the artist was assisted by more than 250 volunteers from all segments of the community—from pre-schoolers to Middlebury studio artists to retired residents. Captured on video by Daniel Houghton, Middlebury Class of 2006, Dougherty’s project was shown in real time on the College’s webpage and also drew wide media attention. Using red maple saplings and grey-twig dogwood that was donated to the College and harvested locally, the artist to constructed nine towering interconnected cones comprised of woven sticks. Straddling the sidewalk at the entrance plaza to the building, So Inclined engages the imagination of all who pass by, and those who approach its vaulted interiors find immediate access and shelter.
Video documentary of Dougherty’s residence, produced by Daniel Houghton ’08
To view the video of So Inclined’s removal, click here.
Patrick Dougherty (American, born 1945) So Inclined, 2007, Red maple saplings and grey dogwood. Commissioned as a temporary deposit by the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. On view 2007-2011. (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Front lawn of the Mahaney Center for the Arts
Around and About, 1971
Painted aluminum, 7 feet x 11 feet x 7 feet 3 inches. Gift of Ken and Linda Wilson 2000.032
Location: Pond behind the Mahaney Center for the Arts
Clement Meadmore’s repeated and characteristic use of geometric but fluid shapes relects his training as an aeronautical engineer.
Like many of Meadmore’s mature sculptures, Around and About consists of two basic geometric forms, square and a quarter circle, extended into space. The black, matte finish of the surfaces unifies the overall effect.
(Photo: Tad Merrick)
Around and About resolves the tensions between closed form and its extension into space, and achieves stability and balance while implying motion. Meadmore combined the geometric forms of contemporary Minimalist art with the expressive potential of artistic gesture derived from earlier Abstract Expressionism.
Painted aluminum, 6 x 6 x 3 feet. Gift of Ken and Linda Wilson. 2000.031
Location: Pond behind the Mahaney Center for the Arts
Robert Indiana’s LOVE is the most frequently quoted artistic image of recent times. Capturing both a historic moment and sensibility with its bold graphic design, it has appeared as greeting card, jewelry design, and United States postage stamp. The contrast between cool formalist lettering and the emotive significance of the word “love” produces a tension characteristic of Indiana’s work.
Although often grouped with the Pop artists, Indiana considers himself a “sign painter.” His work recalls the flat primary colors and hard edges of early Americana. Indiana first created the design of LOVE as a Christmas card in 1964. He subsequently exhibited a series of paintings and the first three-dimensional version of the image in New York in 1966.
Once co-opted by the Youth Movement, LOVE has evolved over time into a universally recognized, ageless icon.
Two-Way Mirror Curved Hedge Zig-Zag Labyrinth, 1996
Glass, steel, Arborvitae nigra, Height: 7 1/2 feet, radius: 15 feet. Purchase with funds from the Overbrook Foundation and the Juliet Lea Hillman Simonds Foundation, with contributions from the Middlebury College Frederick and Martha Lapham Art Acquisition Fund and the Walter Cerf Art Fund. 1996.067
Location: Courtyard of the Mahaney Center for the Arts
Dan Graham’s Two-Way Mirror Curved Hedge Zig-Zag Labyrinth invites active participation while continuing the artist’s ongoing investigation of the dynamics of public space. Unlike pavilions traditionally erected in gardens and parks, Graham’s do not have any apparent practical function, and they blur the boundaries between architecture and sculpture.
(Photo: Tad Merrick)
Graham designed this work to be experienced both from outside and within. The translucent, mirrored glass surface redefines the relationships between object and viewer, viewers inside and outside the pavilion, the object and its surroundings. The reflections of sun and skyscape shift with unceasing variation when the weather is beautiful, as well as echoing the drabness of overcast days. The juxtaposition of industrial and commercial materials with living hedges serves to conjoin nature and the constructs of society.
This pavilion was designed specifically for its site on the plaza of the Middlebury College Center for the Arts. Similar pavilions adorn the rooftops of the Dia Center in New York and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.