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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Behind the Mesh

<om the entrance of the Weitz Center, students returned from winter break to find a brand new art installation hanging over the stairs. Without a plaque or sign to identity the artist and the piece’s origins, the artwork quickly became a week one mystery.

The unknown artist is Joseph Slote. Designed for his final project in Sculpture II with professor Stephen Mohring, the piece was always destined for the Weitz Center. Originally Slote hoped to make the sculpture twice the size of the current product but ran out of time at the end of fall term.

“I knew I wanted to install in the Weitz, and after a walk around the building I determined that above the staircase was the farthest vertical distance in the building. That particular space is especially suited to large 3D work because a piece installed there can be seen from 3 separate floors,” said Slote.

The creation of the piece, recently named “Form 2” was not the only challenge Slote faced. Using the scissor lift and series of ropes, the sculpture required several people to hoist the piece to its current place above the stairs.

Despite the complications in mounting, Slote’s inspiration required the piece to be large and displayed in a vast open space, making the Weitz the ideal spot for the work. Slote wanted the sculpture to force critical thought on complex subjects such as distance and depth.

“I was thinking about big open spaces and how hard they are to visualize. We look across them and see the other wall, but because there’s only air between us and that far wall, we usually aren’t able to grasp the distance. We don’t really engage the depth,” said Slote.

“Only by physically walking to the other side of, say the Weitz atrium, are we able to experience the true size of the room. However, if we place a large object or volume in such a space, we no longer need to walk to the opposite wall to experience that distance. Instead, we can walk our eyes across the surface of the object, and travel, in effect, across the space.”

This piece was not Slote’s first time reacting to this complicated concept of distance. Described as a wooden cube, holding up a larger cube with streaks of red, his original, related sculpture, now called “Form 1”, also explored containment and space expression.

“It’s a plaster cube with an organic form cut through its center. Because the cube is built from layers of differently-colored pigment, the viewer is forced to experience the curvature of the interior form as a series of “level curves,” said Slote.

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