OSU begins 14-month study of Sequoia


An 80-foot illuminated art sculpture is currently installed on Oregon State University’s Corvallis campus, where it will hang aloft for the next 14 months among three 80-year-old redwood trees.

Appointed“Skilled,”the sculpture was created by an internationally renowned artistJohn Gradeand is constructed from over 100,000 pieces of resin and Alaskan yellow cedar that will take the shape of a ghostly fourth redwood. From below, visitors will be able to look through its hollow trunk. At night, the room will be illuminated, drawing spectators to the redwood grove on the north side of OSU’s Memorial Union Quad.

The sculpture is fully assembled for the first time on the OSU campus this week, with teams of volunteer guides tying the pieces together with yarn and fishing line. Grade, members of his studio, OSU Research Associate Yung-Hsiang (Sky) Lan, and OSU Artist-in-Residence Leah Wilson climb the living redwoods to hang the sculpture from padded straps so that the trees are not harmed.

Parts of the sculpture are superficially scorched, a nod to the thick, tough bark of redwood trees that helps them survive wildfires — but not necessarily withstand the extreme, sustained wildfires that are getting worse and worse. more common with climate change.

“These trees are adapted and resilient, but at the same time they are under threat. The ghostly element of the sculpture captures that threat, even as the combustion captures that adaptation,” said Peter Betjemann, Patricia Valian Reser, Director of OSU Arts and Education Complex, who co-presents the sculpture Grade and should officially open on campus. in 2024. “This play of presence and absence, of robustness and vulnerability – these are common themes in Grade’s work.”

Once in place, forest researchers will use the sculpture as a starting point for collecting environmental data. They will place equipment in living redwood trees to perform bioacoustic monitoring of avian communities to detect which species of birds are visiting the grove; perform automated dendrometer measurements to track growth patterns of redwood trees through the seasons; and perform eDNA sequencing on rainwater that passes through the tree canopy to measure biodiversity.

“This is an opportunity to show how integrated and interconnected the work of the College of Forestry is with everything around us,” said Tom DeLuca, dean of the college. “As this installation moves, shifts and changes daily with time, it follows the rhythm of nature, making each day and each experience with the installation unique.”

Grade’s sculptures are often tied to forest conditions, and his works seem to blend into their natural surroundings, making him an ideal candidate for OSU and his strengths in forest research, Betjemann said.

“The redwood grove itself is spatially wonderful, just the way you have this void in there because all the branches are working towards the light; I could instantly see that fleeting cloud in there,” Grade said of his first visit. “So many people ride in that central quad; the carving is going to be subtle, where if you don’t know it, you can stumble upon it and have this wonderful sense of discovery.

The project is co-presented by the OSU Arts and Education Complex, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Forestry, funded by the OSU Foundation endowments of Patricia Valian Reser, Richard and Gretchen Evans and Jim and Peggy Wiggett.

The sculpture will be in place for 14 months, until December 2023, subject to the elements and open to anyone who passes through the grove.

“What I love about public art is that anyone can access it without having to buy a ticket, without access barriers,” Betjemann said. “One of the great commitments of the Arts and Education Complex is that art is not just decorative; art makes you think.

The installation coincides with OSU’s second college-wide fundraising and engagement campaign. Following the official unveiling at an event to kick off the campaign on October 14, there will be an “Opening, Discussion and Artist Reception” on campus on Friday, October 28, when Grade returns and hosts a panel discussion with commentators. of Art, Leah Wilson and the OSU Faculty of Forestry.

At the end of its 14-month stay in Corvallis, the sculpture will be dismantled and reconfigured into a new work of art in a spruce forest outside of Anchorage, Alaska.


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