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.

Anonymous (Chinese, late 19th–early 20th century)

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

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.

Chinese scholars rock

Sabra Field (American, born 1935)

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.

Sabra Field, Mural of Cosmic Geometry

 

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.

Lorenzo Ghiglieri (American, born 1931)

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.

Lorenzo Ghiglieri, The Middlebury Panther

(Photo: Tad Merrick)

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.

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.

Patrick Dougherty, So Inclined

(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, So Inclined

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

Patrick Dougherty, So Inclined (display)

Patrick Dougherty (American, born 1945) So Inclined [detail], 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. (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Front lawn of the Mahaney Center for the Arts

Clement Meadmore (American, born Australia, 1929–2005)

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.

Clement Meadmore, Around and About

(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.

Robert Indiana (American, born 1928)

LOVE, 1973

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.

Robert Indiana, LOVE

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

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.

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

(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.

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

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 (Photo: Tad Merrick) Location: Courtyard of the Mahaney Center for the Arts

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

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