UCSD's art evokes varying student perspectives

It’s absolutely pervasive on campus, yet many students draw a blank when asked about it and what it means to their daily lives.

Lyon Liew

The creators and curators of the Stuart Art Collection state that their intent is to “”enrich the cultural, intellectual and scholarly life of the UCSD campus”” and consider the art pieces “”additions to the fabric of campus life.”” Some students seem to barely give the pieces a second thought, while others are passionate about the flashing lights, distorted figures and juxtaposed objects.

Muir junior Candace Barfoot pulls no punches when giving her opinion of the collection.

“”I think it’s kind of ridiculous,”” she said. “”What is it — the seven vices and virtues? I don’t really think that’s art. It’s just, like, neon tubes. It’s kind of silly-looking.

“”Some of them are okay,”” she added, “”but they don’t really, like … they just seem kind of weird.””

Among the pieces she likes are “”Green Table”” — “”It’s all right; it’s got some strange things written on it”” — and the new “”Read, Write, Think, Dream,”” which she enjoys because it’s “”colorful.””

But Barfoot remains resolute in her distaste for the majority of the works.

“”Mostly, I think those things are just a joke. It doesn’t seem like real art.””

A Revelle senior who wished only to be identified by her first name, Marie, said she finds most of the art “”ugly.””

“”Untitled,”” the water fountain on Myers Drive, perplexes her.

She said, “”I kept looking, thinking, ‘Is that it?’ I couldn’t tell that was really art.””

However, she enjoys “”La Jolla Project.””

“”The first time I saw it,”” she said, “”I attended a mass there, and I thought that was really a good idea.

“”And I’m probably the only one on campus who hates the ‘Sun God,'”” she said, laughing. But her critique of the piece was serious.

“”I’m used to seeing, when some culture thinks about a sculpture to honor their gods, that they take it seriously. [‘Sungod’] is kind of a joke.

“”It’s colorful,”” she offered. “”I like that it’s colorful. But it’s ugly, and it’s called a god, and I don’t like it.””

“”Sun God”” tends to draw a reaction from everyone.

“”It’s neat,”” Roosevelt senior Rebecca Young said. She believes the art collection makes the campus look “”a bit more modern.””

“”The ‘Sun God’?”” Revelle freshman John Gorospe reflected. “”I don’t know. It’s just there.””

Jonathon Perlman, a Warren freshman, found it interesting that “”Sun God”” serves a “”utilitarian”” purpose for most students rather than an artistic one.

“”It’s sort of meant as a center for student collection,”” he said. “”They can come and meet there as a point of reference. I would say that most people don’t have sort of an extra meaning for it, besides the fact that it’s just a place to meet. I’m sure it was meant for more, but most students don’t realize it.””

Perlman was, on the other hand, moved by “”La Jolla Project.””

“”I really enjoy it,”” he said, pointing out its resemblance to Stonehenge in Great Britain. “”It makes us feel that we’re more than just a separated piece of the outside world at college. All the things that have been going on since Sept. 11 — we’re separated from it unless we want to read about it or get a paper sent to us or watch it on television, so [“”La Jolla Project””] just makes it seem like we are still connected to the outside world.””

John Bently, a Marshall freshman, also saw positive aspects of the collection.

“”It adds more to the atmosphere,”” he said, “”it’s friendly, warm, something nice.””

“”Vices and Virtues”” is one of the pieces he enjoys most.

He explained, “”I’ll be sitting in the library studying, and I can look out the window and see the lights flashing and it keeps me on track. Especially the ‘sloth’ one.

“”I think my favorite one of all of them is when I’m walking at night and I hear the singing trees,”” he said. “”It’s quiet and you’re by yourself and all of a sudden you hear this singing, and it puts a smile on your face.””

Muir freshman Lydia Wood has interacted with at least one piece of the collection, “”Green Table,”” on which she has studied.

“”I enjoy this table quite a bit,”” she said, her books spread in front of her. She brought her studying out onto the green marble because “”it seemed like a peaceful place to do work. Some of the things written are very inspirational.””

The overall effect of the Stuart Art Collection, to many students, is a positive one.

“”I see the creativity of the whole thing, how it’s always changing,”” Gorospe said. “”It’s pleasing to the eye.””

“”It’s pretty cool,”” David Merriam, a graduate student, said. He thought a moment about why he liked it.

“”I don’t know,”” he finally said. “”It’s just different.””

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