Return of sculpture project adds life, noises to library

By Keri Hayes

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Anyone who has visited the library lately might have noticed a sprawl of blue PVC pipes enmeshed in colorful cloudbursts outside the building.

No, the librarians have not gotten in touch with their creative sides; the University of Arizona Centennial Sculpture project has returned.

Since the establishment of the project in 1985, sculptures selected each year through an art department competition have been displayed in front of the Administration building.

That lasted until Robbie Barber's "Going Mobile," a piece that commented on military weaponry and the plight of the homeless, upset many people.

Nevertheless, the Centennial Sculpture project has been re-established, with the help of private donors who believe public art is vital to education and culture.

This year's sculpture, created by graduate students Amanda Ralph and Rich Prehn, is accompanied by computer-accessed sounds that evoke a more biological feeling than is usually expected of architectural students. Every few minutes, a sort of gurgling sound erupts from the sculpture, almost like it is digesting something. It is described as metaphorically identifying the library as the intellectual heart of the university.

Andrew Polk, interim art department head, addressed the controversy at the sculpture site's opening reception Sept. 8.

"Controversy inspires debate ... We have always contended that this type of exchange of different ideas should be cherished," Polk said. "It provides a vital component in the university's mission to educate, serving students by developing their abilities to approach alternative viewpoints knowledgeably, with wisdom."

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