UWF completes installation of STEAM public sculptures
The mission of the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute of Multidisciplinary Studies is now embodied in two permanent sculpture installations at the University of West Florida’s Pensacola campus.
“Constellations” and “Interweaving Futures” have found homes in front of the Center for Fine and Performing Arts and the Hal Marcus College of Science and Engineering, respectively, as part of a presidential initiative to commission public art that embodies science, technology, engineering, art and math.
“In bringing together multiple disciplines, these artists have created a unique aesthetic that everyone can enjoy,” said UWF President Martha D. Saunders. “Both sculptures communicate the power of art, giving our already vibrant campus new life and meaning.”
In Summer 2018, UWF issued a call to artists across the globe for the production of public art with a STEAM emphasis, with more than 120 proposals submitted. Ten semifinalists were chosen to participate in the STEAM Public Art Exhibition, held last September at Voices of Pensacola Multicultural Center in downtown Pensacola, and the final two sculptures were later selected.
“The Askew Institute, by definition, looks for projects that take a new approach by combining seemingly disparate ideas into a unique project,” said Dr. Wade Jeffrey, director of the Institute. “The STEAM emphasis of these two pieces bring together some of the latest technologies in both the art and science realms to create unique and fascinating works.”
Artists from FUTUREFORMS, based out of San Francisco, designed “Constellations” and recently visited campus for its installation in front of the CFPA. The piece merges digital craft and cutting-edge fabrication with data visualizations of abstract phenomena found in nature at a variety of scales. It creates a visual marker that acts as a portal into an invisible world of dynamic visual poetry inspired by ideas of science, art and technology.
Inspired by early studies and translations of animal locomotion using chronophotography and planetary motion simulations, “Constellations” uses geometry, light and shadow to create a meditative internal space that at night becomes a playful illuminated sculpture displaying constellations of motion.
“Interweaving Futures” by Hypersonic, a Brooklyn-based design studio, was installed in front of Building 4 in August 2019. It was inspired by Pensacola’s longleaf pine ecosystem and contemplates the conditions under which ideas are sparked, proliferate, take root and grow. From the pine cone’s complex geometry, the sculpture is inspired by a single golden spiral, along which two interweaving sculptural forms oscillate. Student-designed LED light displays have been installed to highlight the piece at night, paying tribute to the fire-adapted landscape and creating a calming and reflective “campfire” where students and faculty from all disciplines can meet and intermingle.
“The colors of Interweaving Futures catch your attention, but then the closer you get, you’re pulled in by the spiral,” Jeffrey said. “It turns out it is just a nice place to sit within the trees, too.”
The STEAM Public Art installation project was funded through the Next Big Thing program, led by Saunders.
For more information about the Reubin O’D. Askew Institute for Multidisciplinary Studies and STEAM, visit uwf.edu/askewinstitute.