Summer exhibition invites sculpture viewers to look elsewhere

June 14, 2017

Five sculptures on the Western Washington University campus invite the viewer to look away from the art works to something beyond them. The sculptures—Bayview Station by George Trakas, Skyviewing Sculpture by Isamu Noguchi, Stadium Piece by Bruce Nauman, Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings by Nancy Holt and Log Ramps by Lloyd Hamrol—function as observatories and stadiums, pointing the viewer towards the bay, the sky, the Pole Star or, in the case of Stadium Piece and Log Ramps, to the passersby. The exhibition, “Pointing,” is curated by the Western Gallery and open from June 20 through Aug. 12 – though the WWU sculpture collection is open to the public daily year-round free of charge.

The group of pointing pieces is accidental: the five sculptures were not selected for the collection based on these characteristics. The pieces were created one by one over a period of thirty years (1969-1999), specifically for the Western campus. Each work developed directly out of an individual artist’s personal practice. Hafþór Yngvason, Director of Western Gallery and exhibition curator noted the common theme and asked himself: what accounts for its presence? The exhibition responds to this question and searches for indications in other works from the same general period of American art.

On July 6 and 7, WWU Extended Education offers additional ways to interact with the sculptures via Grandparents U – a unique intergenerational program for grandparents and grandchildren ages 7-14.  Grandparents and grandchildren work side-by-side as participating in a hands-on course taught by Western faculty. The sculpture interaction will be led by Jennie de Mello e Souza, who is currently she is completing her Masters in Teaching with an endorsement in Visual Arts at Western Washington University. She will work under the direction of Yngvason. More information and registration for Grandparents U.

“Pointing” is the second in a series of summer exhibitions that place sculptures on Western’s campus in a wider context provided by the collection American Works on Paper (1945-1975). This selection of 97 works by 48 American artists was assembled in 1975 and 1976 by the collector Virginia Wright and the legendary art dealer Richard Bellamy. Ms. Wright established the Washington Art Consortium of seven museums in 1975 to own, maintain and exhibit the collection. It was given to the Western Washington University in 2017, when the Consortium disbanded. A visionary art patron, Wright has given Western many of the sculptures on campus, including Nauman’s Stadium Piece, and supported the acquisition of others. In addition to works by the now historically important artists who make up the Works on Paper collection, the exhibition also includes a new knit-felted wool drawing by a young artist emerging on the national scene, Matthew Browning.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Weekly events will be held throughout the summer featuring different aspects of the exhibition. Contact the Gallery for up-to-date event and parking information at (360) 650-3900 or at westerngallery.wwu.edu. More information about visiting campus is at cfpa.wwu.edu/visiting and cfpa.wwu.edu/parking. Disability accommodations are available by calling the Gallery or emailing western.gallery@wwu.edu.

Image: Isamu Noguchi, Skyviewing Sculpture, 1969, © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum.

     Isamu Noguchi, Skyviewing Sculpture, 1969, © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum.