Quicktakes-Fallen Star

A Unique Addition to Stuart Collection

The “Fallen Star,” the latest piece of art in UCSD’s Stuart Collection, consists of a small house and garden that sits atop the Jacobs School of Engineering building. Despite the criticism that the art piece has received due to its partial funding by taxpayer dollars, it should be embraced in the same manner as the Stonehenge, the snake path and numerous other permanent outdoor sculptures on campus. The Stuart Art Collection is a valuable part of USCD’s identity.

For instance, the Sun God statue, the Stuart Collection’s first work, has become a symbol of UCSD culture, with its inclusion in UCSD brochures and most notably, with the annual Sun God Festival that began in 1983. The Guardian also proudly uses the Sun God as its logo. Since 1982, the collection has brought internationally acclaimed artists to design distinct, site-specific works. Sculptures such as the Warren Bear, the “Vices and Virtues” lights and the front entrance of Geisel Library are incorporated into the landscape of the campus.

The Stuart Collection gives UCSD students, staff, faculty, the San Diego community and campus visitors from around the world a chance to admire unique, clever art pieces made specifically for UCSD Of course, neither the Fallen Star nor any of the other sculptures on campus are cheap. The Falling Star cost $1.3 million, $90,000 of which came from the National Endowment for the Arts. But the Stuart Collection relies on taxpayer dollars as well as the financial support of many organizations, foundations and individuals.

The criticism of art pieces for their partial funding by taxpayer dollars not only is unfair to the artists who made them — who generally lack control over where the money for their art comes from — but also is a loss to the Stuart Collection itself, an important part of UCSD’s identity.

— Arik Burakovsky Senior Staff Writer

Not the Time For Expensive Art

Fallen Star is the 18th and latest entry into the site-specific sculptures that are sprinkled throughout the UCSD campus, collectively known as the Stuart Collection. While this piece of art may add culture to the campus, it serves as a public billboard for wasteful government spending to those who are unfamiliar with how the project was funded. Designed by famed artist Do Ho Suh, “Fallen Star” is a remarkably complex engineering feat and costly piece — approximately $1.3 million.

The revenue for this project was funded almost wholly through private donations and a $90,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, paid for by taxpayers. In an article by the San Diego 10 News, several UCSD students even stated that this was not the best use of money. This piece unknowingly reinforces the image of a government-spending monster that is quickly spiraling out of control.

This project is being installed at an unfortunate time. Due to a state budget shortfall of $13 billion dollars over the next 18 months, UC tuition has hit a record high of $13,200 per student, and academic shutdowns like the closing of CLICs library are especially hitting hard. While the money being used to fund this project cannot be used anywhere else, it makes little difference to some people, like the San Diego Tax Fighters, who believe that the government needs to focus on things more important than art. UCSD needs to either be more transparent and vocal about how things are funded or wait for more economic friendly times to install such a superfluous and, from a financial standpoint, easily critiqued endeavor.

— Aleks Levin Staff

Writer NEA Donation Goes a Long Way

Though touted as a privately funded engineering feat, Do Ho Suh’s $1.3 million “Fallen Star” art piece was actually partially subsidized by taxpayers’ dollars to the tune of $90,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant, an organization founded and funded by Congress since 1965.

There may be hesitation about the relative importance of government funded art projects considering the countless other problems in the nation, but the NEA is already a established part of our government. Because of its longevity and respect it has earned over its 46 years of existence, a small contribution from them can go a long way.

According to the NEA website, only 2 percent of arts support comes directly from federal funds, with less than 1 percent of that coming from NEA. However, this small percentage has a large impact. In a speech by NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, the conclusion of multiple studies has shown that the grants the well-known and established organizations provide for projects have a “multiplying effect.” Once the NEA contributes to an artist endeavor, their funds are usually matched, “generat[ing] 7 to 8 times more money in terms of matching grants, further donations and earned revenue.”

Because the NEA is such a respected institute, the money that they do donate legitimizes a project and creates more validation in the eyes of others. By donating just under 7 percent to “Fallen Star”’s total budget, the NEA helped the project achieve its $1.3 million goal. The money the NEA gives has already been allocated to them, and while government funded art support has significantly decreased in the past five years, a little can go a long way in creating a work of art.

— Chelsey Davis Staff Writer

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