Arts & Culture

UWF public sculpture class works tell stories, transform campus

Art sculptures honoring the rich University of West Florida history beautify the UWF Pensacola campus with a variety of colors, textures and shapes. A class of UWF Department of Art students designed the aesthetically-pleasing artwork as part of an advanced sculpture course.

Ascending Colors, one of four art installations on the UWF Pensacola campus

Carrie Fonder, assistant professor in UWF’s Department of Art, and Barbara Larson, Department of Art chair and professor, first shared the idea for the sculptures with UWF President Martha D. Saunders in November 2018. The project unfolded over the course of the spring semester.

The students selected locations for the sculptures from a variety of UWF properties presented by the President’s Cabinet. Their artwork, which was recently installed, will be on display for approximately one year.

“Through this opportunity, President Saunders and her Cabinet afforded the students an unparalleled high-impact learning activity,” said Carrie Fonder, instructor for the public sculpture class. “It’s remarkable for students to have an opportunity to make a work of public art on the undergraduate level—but it’s even more remarkable when the clients are the President of the University and her Cabinet. From pitching their ideas to digging post holes, my students have had an incredible and rewarding experience.”

Robin Anderson, assistant director of the Facilities Department, provided support as students installed the following sculptures:

  • “Voyage” is located in the breezeway between Buildings 20W and 20E. The project, developed by Crystal Ryan, Sean O’Hern and Victoria Palasciano, ties in the history of the Argonauts. By using fabric stretched through the ceiling, the artwork symbolizes the golden fleece and travels of the Argonauts. The sculpture provides viewers with an iconic site that represents their voyage through UWF.
  • “Ascending Colors” is located on a sloping lawn, south of Building 10 and east of the University Commons. Recently, a diseased tree older than the University was removed in the area due to safety concerns cited by certified arborists. Students were inspired by the memory of the tree and considered the function of a tree in a semi-natural, semi-architectural space when developing their structure. Consequently, the sculpture, like trees, provides shade and adds to the established environment. The sculpture is fabricated out of steel and colored acrylic sheet. The public is invited to take a new path as they traverse the campus under the sculpture. As light shines through the colored acrylic that makes up “canopies,” passersby will be bathed in a variety of colors. The project was developed by Dylan Clark, Laura Hydle and Kevin O’Leary.
  • “Sound Portal” is located in the courtyard area of Building 11. The project was developed by Ali Houghton, Noah Peake and Alex Adcock. The sculpture’s design consists of an interactive stringed instrument to be plucked and played by viewers. The stringed central element consists of guitar strings arranged in a geometric star-like pattern, held together at connection points with bolts. The wall structure is shaped like a bowl and made of sheet steel which backs the interactive stringed form to provide resonance. Two chime-like elements, constructed using steel and piping on either side of the stringed instrument, act as wind-operated musical pieces. Lucas Abela’s Pinball Pianola was the students’ main inspiration for the sculpture.
  • “Galene’s Waves” is a 35-foot painted wood structure located near Building 12, made from yellow pine wood and steel. The project was developed by Summer Dozier, Samantha Earley and Ann Marie Nusrala. The title of the piece comes from the story of Jason and the Argonauts where Jason encounters the goddess of calm seas, Galene, and she helps him prevail.

UWF’s Office of Undergraduate Research provided additional project support through the OUR Project Awards, grant funding intended to assist undergraduate students researching under the mentorship of a faculty member.

For more information about the Department of Art, visit

To view more photographs of the art installations, visit our album here.