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Ayşe Erkmen



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Places by the Turkish artist Ayşe Erkmen was commissioned in conjunction with the renovations of Samuel Cupples Hall II and Scott Rudolph Hall in 2011 and 2013, respectively. For this site-specific installation—the artist’s first permanent public art project completed in the United States—Erkmen created nine large-scale geometric monoliths covered in small glass mosaic tiles. The synthetic colors of the tiles—dark green, yellow green, light green, and light blue—create an optical mixture of hues that simultaneously integrate the work with the surrounding landscape and provide a dissonant contrast to it. The monoliths are arranged in an arc near the intersection of two walking paths to make, according to the artist, an “aesthetic and functional work” for an area with significant pedestrian activity. Erkmen’s longstanding interest in using overtly functional forms as sculpture builds on her previous work, such as her 1997 project Warm Benches in Berlin, for which she used pipes to tap into the adjoining power plant to create heated outdoor seating, and her 2011 installation Plan B, a colorful water-purification system installed in a warehouse alongside a canal as part of the 54th Venice Biennale. Although the monoliths for Places have an intentional ambiguity, the work extends the artist’s interest in using sculpture to create a social gathering place. While both the construction and color of these forms are highly artificial, they allude to the ubiquitous use of boulders in campus landscapes. Their abstract geometry has an affinity with the work of modernist sculptors, while the decorative pattern of the glass tiles adds a contemporary design vernacular. In addition, by literally marking this site through the placement of monoliths within the landscape, Erkmen appropriates a familiar artistic strategy from land art precedents. Ultimately, however, the artist challenges viewer expectations of the site by creating an installation that is open to both use and interpretation. [Art on Campus brochure, 2017]

  • Artist Ayşe Erkmen (Turkish, b. 1949)
  • Title Places
  • Date 2015
  • Medium Stainless steel reinforced concrete with glass mosaic tile
  • Dimensions overall | dimensions variable
  • Credit line University purchase, Art on Campus fund, Samuel Cupples Hall II and Scott Rudolph Hall, 2015
  • Object number WU 2015.0003 a-i

Leslie Markle, Art on Campus Curator; Committee Members (voting): Bunny Burson (ACC member), Sabine Eckmann (Chair), David Freidel, Edward Macias, Jennifer Romney, Barbara Schaal, Gerhild Williams, and Lucy Yan

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