Clemson’s Core Campus installation set for spring break

February 21, 2017

Georgie Silvarole , 6:43 p.m. ET Feb. 20, 2017

When public artist Koryn Rolstad sees a space, her vision for what she wants to create within that realm comes immediately to mind.

“I can look at the drawings and get the idea in a nanosecond,” Rolstad said. “It’s like a writer, when they get their idea and it just writes itself. I look at the space and I know exactly what it’s going to be in a moment.”

That was the case with her design for Clemson University’s Core Campus — she knew what the installation would be the moment she saw the drawings. With a background not only in art but also in architecture and engineering, Rolstad secured the project almost a year ago after Clemson had put out a call for artists. About a month from now, the $250,000 project will be underway.

Students involved with Atelier InSite, a Creative Inquiry program focused on bringing public artwork to Clemson University, pushed for a substantial university contribution to public art a few years ago, said Richard Goodstein, dean of Clemson’s College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities. In 2013, that became a reality when the Percent for Art proposal was approved.

The policy states that Clemson University will include and set aside 0.5 percent of the construction value of capital projects specifically for public artwork.

Goodstein said public installations like the series of painted petri dishes by artist Klari Reis in the Life Sciences facility can influence how people feel, and that’s an investment Clemson is happy to make. It’s a trend that has been an important part of healthy communities, healthy cities and healthy campuses, he said.

“It’s this notion of art and beauty and understanding the environment around you in the context of a public institution — public art is a major piece of all of it,” Goodstein said.

Rolstad’s piece “Illuminated Chroma Wind Trees” is a large-scale work that will be composed of 90 “tree forms” and dozens of “wings” that will appear to be flying away from those trees, all the way through Core Campus. The building, which took almost two years to build and was finished in the fall of 2016, is a mixed-use facility that’s home to the Calhoun Honors College, a dining hall and several study spaces.

Rolstad said she’s created projects for campuses, regional transit centers and public places across the country. Her work has changed a lot over the years, and she said she’s really looking forward to seeing her Clemson installation come to life on March 20 when students are away for spring break.

“Clemson’s going to be fun because I think you’ve got the weather, you’ve got the sun,” Rolstad said. “It’s just going to be really happy, you know? I think they’ll really enjoy it.”

Mary Michelle Baghdady, a senior visual arts major, took part in the voting process and was impressed with Rolstad’s proposal. It appeared delicate even though the design is meant to be extremely sturdy, and gave her the feeling that it would, at the very least, give people a reason to pause when they walked by.

“With Koryn’s work, knowing that I had some small touch in the process and knowing that I’m going to see it when I visit — it’s rooting me, in a way, to Clemson,” Baghdady said. “It just makes me smile to know I was involved somehow.”

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