Dan Graham, Two-Way Mirror Curved Hedge Zig-Zag Labyrinth (display)

Dan Graham (American, born 1942) 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

Buky Schwartz (American, born Jerusalem, 1932–2009)

Plato’s Cave, 1990

Steel, video camera, video monitors. Acquired by the College for the Center for the Arts on the occasion of its inauguration. 1992.007

Location: Foyer of the Mahaney Center for the Arts

Plato’s Cave explores the contradiction between what the mind knows and the eye can see. By turning the camera axis ninety degrees and placing it at the focal point of the sculpture, Schwartz forces us to acknowledge that what we see on the screen is actually an illusion. Through the medium of video, we are likened to inhabitants of Plato’s cave in the Seventh Book of The Republic: with their backs to the world, they face the wall of the cave, reading flickering shadows as reality.

Buky Schwartz, Plato's Cave

Buky Schwartz, Plato's Cave

Buky Schwartz (American, born Jerusalem, 1932–2009) Plato’s Cave, 1990 Steel, video camera, video monitors. Acquired by the College for the Center for the Arts on the occasion of its inauguration. 1992.007 Location: Foyer of the Mahaney Center for the Arts

Anonymous (American)

Pair of Panthers, c. 1900

Bronze. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Neil St. John Raymond and Family

Location: Outside the President's House, 3 South Street

Previously serving as guardians of a Rhode Island estate, these two bronze panthers now protect the backyard of the President’s house on South Street. The life-size panthers stand poised to attack and, as evidence of their hunting prowess, a deer lies pinned beneath one of them.

Anonymous Panthers

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

The panthers exemplify American animal sculpture as influenced by the French animalier tradition of the Nineteenth Century. Initiated by the work of Antoine-Louis Barye (1795–1875), who is responsible for raising the status of animal subjects from the lowest rung of respectability, the animalier made works marked by exact anatomical detail, sympathetic rendering, and dynamic tension. The realistic representation of the animals’ movement and musculature in this work reflects the successful American adoption of the animalier tradition.

Jenny Holzer (American, Born 1950)

Selections from Truisms: A Sense of Timing..., 1977–1979

Danby Imperial marble, 16 3/4 x 61 x 25 3/8 inches. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2001.004

Location: Second floor of the library

Jenny Holzer is a multi-media artist whose pithy Truisms have been printed on posters, T-shirts, and LED (light-emitting diode) boards from Times Square to Tokyo. In addition to those seen here, some of the best known are “Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise” and “Lack of Charisma Can be Fatal.” One has only to look on the Internet to find a full sampling of her Truisms.

As would be suggested by the range of environments in which her work appears, Holzer believes that art should be comprehensible and relevant to a wide audience, not reserved specifically for museums and their public. She began to write her Truisms in the late 1970s, following an intensive period of reading canonical texts of both Eastern and Western traditions. While her writing and the variety of advertising techniques she uses to reach a broad public have led to controversy about the aesthetic status of her art, Holzer has nevertheless been commissioned by major international museums to design public spaces emblazoned with her signature texts.

Jenny Holzer, Selections from Truisms

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

This bench was made in Vermont and purchased by the Committee on Art in Public Places for installation in its present location.

Jenny Holzer, Selections from Truisms (display)

Jenny Holzer (American, Born 1950) Selections from Truisms: A Sense of Timing... [detail], 1977–1979 Danby Imperial marble, 16 3/4 x 61 x 25 3/8 inches. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2001.004 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Second floor of the library

Jenny Holzer, Selections from Truisms

Jenny Holzer (American, Born 1950) Selections from Truisms: A Sense of Timing..., 1977–1979 Danby Imperial marble, 16 3/4 x 61 x 25 3/8 inches. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2001.004 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Second floor of the library

Matt Mullican (American, born 1951)

L’Art d’Ecrire (The Art of Writing), 2004–2005

Oil stick and acrylic paint on 64 canvas panels, overall dimensions: 25' x 74'. Commissioned by the Committee on Art in Public Places, Middlebury College, with funds provided by the Glenstone Foundation in honor of Charles Gwathmey, and The Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting in America of The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York. 2005.039

Location: In the atrium of the library

For nearly three decades, artist Matt Mullican has evolved a visual language that describes an imagined world, a universe of his own creation. Drawing from a rich vocabulary of images, many of which have roots in actual signs and symbols from the public realm, Mullican composes grids of information that can be both literal and evocative.

The artist’s visual language also includes a chromatic palette he has used since the 1970s. In addition to black, which represents language, his works employ the primary colors—red, yellow and blue—and, occasionally, green or white. For L’Art d’Ecrire he has chosen to use black and yellow. Signifying “the world framed,” in the artist’s own terms, yellow provides a legible background for the artist’s adaptation and incorporation of imagery from a wide range of published sources.

Matt Mullican, L'Art Decrire

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

The mural is comprised of 64 individual panels created using a transfer technique favored by the artist. Mullican first makes a vinyl template for each image, which is articulated as a positive relief. The yellow canvas is then laid over the template and rubbed by hand, with black oilstick. The imagery of the template is thus transferred, via the rubbing, onto the canvas. The artist’s process and its final character are akin to the popular activity of making chalk rubbings from old gravestones.

The title of the mural, “The Art of Writing,” as well as a number of the images within the work, have come from the influential 18th century Encyclopedia compiled by the French academicians Denis Diderot and Jean d’Alembert. This multi-volume anthology of articles and images on a broad range of topics endeavored to catalogue all of human knowledge, with an unprejudiced respect for the mechanical arts as well as the intellectual, or liberal, arts.

Like his Enlightenment predecessors, Mullican shares an enthusiasm for anthologizing. Woven within L’Art d’Ecrire,one can find references to a range of ideas that encompasses language, geography, history, the natural world, and the built environment. Among the recognizable images in this encyclopedic survey of world knowledge are alphabets of myriad languages, charts of the heavenly bodies, and some references to Middlebury itself. For example, the library building has been acknowledged in the form of two floor plans found in the mural's center panel. Mullican’s iconography places an emphasis on the world as perceived through the visual language of commonly accepted signs and symbols that his viewers can read. More broadly, the fundamental concept of the libraryas a locus of knowledge, research, and information resonates throughout the mural’s imagery and themes.

Matt Mullican, L'Art d'Ecrire (display)

Matt Mullican (American, born 1951) L’Art d’Ecrire (The Art of Writing) [detail], 2004–2005 Oil stick and acrylic paint on 64 canvas panels, overall dimensions: 25' x 74'. Commissioned by the Committee on Art in Public Places, Middlebury College, with funds provided by the Glenstone Foundation in honor of Charles Gwathmey, and The Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting in America of The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York. 2005.039 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: In the atrium of the library

Matt Mullican, L'Art d'Ecrire

Matt Mullican (American, born 1951) L’Art d’Ecrire (The Art of Writing), 2004–2005 Oil stick and acrylic paint on 64 canvas panels, overall dimensions: 25' x 74'. Commissioned by the Committee on Art in Public Places, Middlebury College, with funds provided by the Glenstone Foundation in honor of Charles Gwathmey, and The Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting in America of The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York. 2005.039 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: In the atrium of the library

Michael Singer (American, born 1942)

Garden of the Seasons, 2003–2004

Granite, cast concrete, painted steel, aluminum, and plantings. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2004.048

Location: Adjacent to the library

Michael Singer, who has been a resident of Vermont since 1971, is an internationally known sculptor who has redefined the practice of art and broadened its applicability to a surprisingly wide range of publicly funded and publicly maintained spaces. In addition to commissions for private residences, he has completed award-winning site-specific sculptural environments comprised of natural and man-made materials for airports, office complexes, college campuses, civic waste management facilities, waterfront recreational areas, and public parks. A graduate of Cornell University, he has been awarded fellowships and grants from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 1996 he received the Vermont State Governor’s Award for the Arts from then Governor Howard Dean.

Singer was awarded the commission for a library garden at Middlebury following a competition in 2002–2003, which was sponsored by CAPP. An exhibition of three proposals was on view at the college Museum in spring 2003.

A popular destination as well as a seductive retreat for pedestrians and casual visitors to campus, Garden of the Seasons was conceived as a designated spot for study, contemplation, and refreshment of the senses. From the western and southern windows of the library one can enjoy a birds-eye view of the project. Even those who see the garden only from afar—in passing vehicles, for example—can enjoy its alluring conjunction of nature and culture. As its plantings mature and the seasons follow their courses, Garden of the Seasons is designed to affect and offer respite and pleasure to generations of Middlebury students, staff and passersby.

Michael Singer, Garden of the Seasons (full)

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

Occupying a space of approximately 30 feet in diameter, Garden of the Seasons is located to the south of the library building. Articulated both on the ground and above it, the garden space is defined by granite benches that form a semi-circular enclosure and also a stepped wall that runs parallel to the sidewalk between the building and Storrs Avenue.

From afar the garden can be seen by its signature planting screen, a six by fourteen foot rectangle made of mesh, aluminum, painted steel, stainless steel cable, and copper piping that rises above the ground. In warmer months the screen carries a variety of deciduous vines and foliage, which change color with the seasons. In winter months it supports a wall of ice. The circular seating area of the garden encloses a “floor” made of cast aluminum and concrete with textured copper that harbors various indigenous plantings—mosses, flowers, and ferns.

Michael Singer, Garden of the Seasons (detail)

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

The water that maintains the garden in the temperate seasons is furnished by a designated retention pool that holds run-off storm water. A swale of rocks and plantings extends from this pool, forming an arc around the garden that ends at the road at the perimeter of the library lawn. The entire area within this arc is planted with tall grasses and wild flowers. In the temperate seasons the water runs naturally; during the winter months a pump buried in the construction delivers water in upward pulses where it freezes on the planting screen.

Michael Singer, Garden of the Seasons (detail)

Michael Singer (American, born 1942) Garden of the Seasons [detail], 2003–2004 Granite, cast concrete, painted steel, aluminum, and plantings. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2004.048 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Adjacent to the library

Michael Singer, Garden of the Seasons (display)

Michael Singer (American, born 1942) Garden of the Seasons [detail], 2003–2004 Granite, cast concrete, painted steel, aluminum, and plantings. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2004.048 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Adjacent to the library

Michael Singer, Garden of the Seasons (full)

Michael Singer (American, born 1942) Garden of the Seasons, 2003–2004 Granite, cast concrete, painted steel, aluminum, and plantings. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2004.048 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Adjacent to the library

Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986)

7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks), 1982–1987/1998

Basalt marker and red oak tree. Tree and basalt stone planted by the Middlebury College Museum of Art in memory of the artist Joseph Beuys. 1998.003

Location: Lawn between Starr Hall and Starr Axxin

A meditative artist, political activist, and influential teacher, Joseph Beuys termed much of his work “social sculpture,” by which he meant to suggest his utopian belief that art had more than an aesthetic function.

For Beuys, the ever-changing proportional relationship between the young tree and the inanimate stone marker illustrated the permanent state of flux in which all organisms exist. His selection of basalt, a form of hardened, volcanic lava, alludes to both volatility and duration, linked aspects of time that inform all of his works. The tree and marker from this ambitious project link Middlebury to the larger global community: in contemplating this site the viewer is connected with a network of other viewers contemplating similar installations in numerous places on the planet.

Joseph Beuys, 7000 Oaks

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

Joseph Beuys, 7000 Oaks (display)

Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986) 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) [detail], 1982–1987/1998 Basalt marker and red oak tree. Tree and basalt stone planted by the Middlebury College Museum of Art in memory of the artist Joseph Beuys. 1998.003 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Lawn between Starr Hall and Starr Axxin

Joseph Beuys, 7000 Oaks

Joseph Beuys (German, 1921–1986) 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks), 1982–1987/1998 Basalt marker and red oak tree. Tree and basalt stone planted by the Middlebury College Museum of Art in memory of the artist Joseph Beuys. 1998.003 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Lawn between Starr Hall and Starr Axxin

Deborah Fisher (American, born 1972)

Solid State Change, 2007

Discarded tires and electrical insulation. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2007.023

Location: Hillcrest Environmental Center

Solid State Change, inspired by the geology and topography of Vermont, alludes formally to the metamorphic bedrock beneath Middlebury itself. The artist conceived the sculpture in relation to the exterior curved wall of Hillcrest, the newly renovated and expanded home of the College’s Program in Environmental Studies. Established in 1965, this interdisciplinary program—the first such undergraduate major in the United States—combines course work in geology, geography, economics, political science, biology, chemistry, physics, religion, and philosophy.

Deborah Fisher, Solid State Change

 

Recognizing the multi-faceted approach to learning in Hillcrest, and seeking to juxtapose a broad range of references, Fisher created an artwork from discarded—and hence recycled—materials. Working from the ground up, she assembled strata of rubber tires intermixed with colorful strips of plastic insulation that were once used to sheathe copper wire. Composed of materials that are not biodegradable and not accepted at most landfill sites, the 6000-pound structure incorporates the processes and products of industrial activity, yet it appears to have emerged naturally from the earth.

Deborah Fisher, Solid State Change (display)

Deborah Fisher (American, born 1972) Solid State Change (detail), 2007 Discarded tires and electrical insulation. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2007.023 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Hillcrest Environmental Center

Deborah Fisher, Solid State Change

Deborah Fisher (American, born 1972) Solid State Change, 2007 Discarded tires and electrical insulation. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. 2007.023 Location: Hillcrest Environmental Center

Patrick Villiers Farrow (American, born 1942)

Frisbee Dog, 1989

Bronze, 68 x 28 x 36 inches. Gift of Gary Merrill. 1989

Location: On the quad in front of Munroe Hall

The practice of throwing a disc in an athletic contest can be dated to the first Olympics in 776 B.C., but we can be sure that heavy piece of metal was not easy to catch. Patrick Villiers Farrow’s Frisbee Dog commemorates the evolution of an ancient sport into the game of we know today.

Five Middlebury alumni claim to have thrown the first Frisbee, a discarded pie tin from the then-popular Frisbie Pie Company, while changing a flat tire in the fall of 1939. There are several counter-versions of the game’s invention. One advanced by three Yale Law School students was apparently confirmed by Mrs. Frisbie herself; Webster’s New World Dictionary confusingly asserts that “Mother Frisbie’s cookie jars were originally used for the game by Princeton students.”

We may never know who threw the first Frisbee pie tin, but we can be sure that Farrow drew his inspiration from the Middlebury students who continue to throw Frisbees on the lawn in front of the McCullough Student Center.

Patrick Farrow, Frisbee Dog

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

George Rickey (American, 1907–2002)

Two Open Rectangles, Excentric, Variation VI, 1976

Stainless steel, 12 x 3 feet. Purchase with funds provided by the Friends of Art Acquisition Fund and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 1977.002

Location: In front of Johnson Memorial Building

George Rickey’s kinetic sculptures do not use mechanical devices of any kind to create movement. Inspired by Alexander Calder’s mobiles, Rickey arranged the spare and geometric elements of his sculptures so that they are free to move with the surrounding air currents. These create random patterns of movement within tightly controlled perameters.

Two Open Rectangles, Excentric, Variation VI keeps the viewer in a state of constant suspense. The sculpture creates the impression that the two rectangles interpenetrate, even though they do not, and that they will collide, even though they cannot. Rickey’s work is neither gestural nor anthropomorphic. His interest lay in the moving object itself and the sculpture’s articulation of its environment.

George Rickey, Two Open Rectangles

George Rickey, Two Open Rectangles

George Rickey (American, 1907–2002) Two Open Rectangles, Excentric, Variation VI, 1976 Stainless steel, 12 x 3 feet. Purchase with funds provided by the Friends of Art Acquisition Fund and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 1977.002 Location: In front of Johnson Memorial Building

Jules Olitski (American, born Ukraine, 1922–2007)

King Kong, 1973

Cor-ten steel, 5 feet x 9 feet 4 inches x 8 feet 5 inches. Gift of Sophia Healy. 1994.003

Location: In front of Johnson Memorial Building

Jules Olitski is better known as a painter, but he also created a significant body of large-scale sculpture. An active participant in the Color Field Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, he poured and sponged large areas of modulated colors onto the canvas. He also painted the surfaces of his first sculptures. In 1973 he began to use Cor-ten steel, giving his sculptural surfaces a monochromatic sheen that matched the voluptuousness of his earlier paintings.

Jules Olitski, King Kong

 

King Kong consists of two circular, concentric rings, the smaller one contained and partially hidden within the larger. Olitski altered the outer ring by cutting into and puncturing its surface, leaving behind negative imprints that vary in size from quite large to almost invisible. These openings partially reveal the inner ring and suggest narrative or symbolic meaning. Four crude gashes into the upper, bounding periphery allow the sculpture to be read as a primitive crown, as well as work of art that has suffered major damage caused by the attack of a gigantic simian, the mythic King Kong.

Pages