BLOOMINGTON — A stainless steel sculpture called “Oracle” looks at home next to the brick and stainless steel of State Farm Hall on the Eckley Quad at Illinois Wesleyan University.
And until the end of May, the quad will be the home of “Oracle” and five other large-scale sculptures ranging from 5 to more than 10 feet tall, one of which weighs 10,000 pounds.
“Oracle,” is one of IWU President Dick Wilson's favorites.
“It's the combination of the setting, the name of the sculpture, and I just like it,” Wilson said.
The six sculptures are the creations of two New York-based artists, Hans Van de Bovenkamp, who created “Oracle” and three others on exhibit, and Boaz Vaadia.
Another of Wilson's favorites is “Ah'av,” a 5-foot-tall bronze, basalt and bluestone sculpture by Vaadia that depicts a person sitting on a rock.
“It's a prototypical student pose,” Wilson said. “Both my wife and I like it.”
The sculptures rim the quad, and their placement was a collaboration among people on IWU's campus, including IWU's School of Art Director Kevin Strandberg and an expert from the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois who consulted with the two artists.
A 24-foot-long, stainless steel archway, “Sagg Portal #6,” by Van de Bovenkamp, crosses one of the quad's sidewalks.
Wilson said the sculptures are already generating excitement among people on campus, and he looks forward to the reaction of students returning in the fall.
“I fully expect students to make drawings,” Wilson said. “They'll be used in ways I can't imagine.”
It's possible at least one of the artists will come to campus.
The university has invited the public to view the sculptures. More information about their background and exact location is available at www.iwu.edu/sculptures.
“I think it tells people that the arts are alive and well at Illinois Wesleyan,” Wilson said.
While projects at many universities, including IWU, can take months or years to be developed, this one came together in just 60 days.
“Nothing happens that fast,” Wilson said, still amazed.
Wilson and his wife, Pat, were at a gathering of IWU alumni in Florida when he mentioned his hope of having sculptures on the quad some day. One of the graduates present suggested Wilson contact organizers of the Sarasota Season of Sculpture and ask where its sculptures were going next.
“I have to admit, that while it was intriguing to me, I thought it would be terribly complex,” Wilson said and he had his hands full with the school year near its end, so he asked his wife to look into it.
“I give my wife full credit,” said Wilson. “If she hadn't really stepped into this, it wouldn't have happened.”
It turned out Sarasota Season of Sculpture was as intrigued by the idea as Wilson and the two artists were willing to have their works displayed at IWU without charge, Wilson said.
Donations covered transportation and installation costs, he added. Six sculptures were chosen, based in part on how many would fit on one truck, he said.