Student Team Assists Installation of Important Artwork in Classroom Building
Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides), owned by the Smith Museum of Art, consists of a small line drawing and instructions that are meant to be carried out on a grand scale to replicate the drawing.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — Three Smith College students are assisting in the intensive effort of installing an important work of art on the wall between two Burton Hall classrooms in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. None of the students designed the drawing, and they are following a set of instructions that are to be executed in black pencil.
Late artist Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides) was given to the Smith College Museum of Art about a dozen years ago by an anonymous donor from the class of 1947. It consists of a small line drawing and instructions that are meant to be carried out on a grand scale to replicate the drawing.
Beginning this week, the drawing will be installed in pencil on the wall between rooms 301 and 302 under the guidance of Roland Lusk, a draftsman from LeWitt’s New York studio. Assisting Lusk over the course of a two-week period will be Clara Bauman ’13, Mingjia Chen ’15, and Clara Rosebrock ’16. The piece will be on view by January 25.
Lusk has twice before collaborated with teams of Smith students to install Sol LeWitt pieces in public spaces. In 2008, he installed the same piece in the Smith Museum of Art, and, later that year, a different artwork at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Springfield, Mass.
A leader in the development of conceptual art in the U.S., LeWitt believed that the idea behind a work of art is more important than its execution. To that end, the artist created many works that took the form of detailed instructions that could be completed by anyone and at any time or place, according to Aprile Gallant, curator of prints, drawings and photos at the Museum of Art.
The drawing that will be on view in Burton is the same drawing as the one that was on view at the museum but, because each piece is site-specific, it will be represented in different dimensions. [Listen to Gallant describe the process of the 2008 installation at the museum.]
“Since exhibition space at the museum is limited, we were only able to have Wall Drawing #139 on view for one year,” she said. “This will allow us to have the work on view for a long period of time, as well as to integrate an important drawing from our collection into the daily life of Smith students.”
The Burton Hall installation was spearheaded by MathStudio, a creative studio space at Smith focused on process and dialogue between mathematics and art, in collaboration with the Smith Museum of Art and the Sol LeWitt Studio in New York City.
“I had given a short lecture about the LeWitt drawing after it was installed at the Smith Museum for the first time in 2008 and really appreciate its intricacies and relationship to my interests,” said Pau Atela, MathStudio founder and professor of mathematics and statistics. “I wanted it to be located central to the department.”
Last semester, when student artist Bauman viewed the wall that will be the location of the Sol LeWitt drawing, it was the first time she had been in Burton Hall.
“I am a studio art major so I very rarely enter the science quad,” said Bauman. “This is a very appropriate work to be installed in the math department given the concerns for systems and geometry with which LeWitt conceived his works. I am excited to install the drawing in such a highly frequented space.”
This project is funded by the Borie Fund, the President’s Office, and the Smith Museum of Art, which also owns several of LeWitt’s sculptures and works on paper.
The instruments used to create the piece are relatively simple: pencils, compasses, rulers, levels and plumb lines. Yet hand-drawing the piece is not simple at all, according to Lusk.
“A key part to a lot of Sol’s drawings is having the patience to deal with repetition but being able to maintain focus,” said Lusk. “Every mark matters.”
For Atela, the installation of Wall Drawing #139 is the culmination of a proposal that he made two years ago. “It’s pretty special,” said Atela, adding “and hopefully will stay forever.”
The following text will accompany the Burton Hall installation.
Sol LeWitt: Wall Drawing #139
From the Permanent Collection of Smith College Museum of Art
Sol LeWitt (1928-2007) was one of America’s leading conceptual artists. Believing that the idea of art is more important than its physical presence, LeWitt created works that had their genesis in a set of simple instructions that can be executed by anyone. These directions create logical and repetitive systems of lines, arcs, and grids, which de-emphasize the subjective decisions of the person fabricating the work of art. LeWitt’s wall drawings are the best known examples of his works created according to this conceptual system.
In 2000, a member of the Smith class of 1947 gave SCMA the anonymous gift of LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 (Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides) (1972). This important early wall drawing, executed in black pencil, will be installed in the Smith College Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Burton Hall (third floor) in January 2013 through a partnership between SCMA and MathStudio. MathStudio, the brainchild of Mathematics Professor Pau Atela, is an ongoing creative studio space at Smith College focusing on process and dialogue between mathematics and art. Integrated into daily campus life in this way, the installation will allow open access to LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 outside of regular museum hours, during an extended period of time.
From January 7–19, Roland Lusk, a member of LeWitt’s New York studio, will supervise three Smith students in the execution of the drawing on a centrally located wall in the Math Department. The students are Clara Bauman, Smith class of ’13, Mingjia Chen, Smith class of ’15 and Clara Rosebrock, Smith class of ’16. The installation in Burton Hall will be fully completed and on view by January 25, 2013.
The new installation of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139 in Burton Hall, Smith College was made possible by the Ann Weinbaum Solomon, class of 1959 Fund, the Office of the President of Smith College, and the Smith College Department of Mathematics & Statistics (Borey Fund).
Visit www.smith.edu/artmuseum for updated information on Smith College Museum of Art.
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