No man (or animal) is an island

Brackett Hall spiral mesh display

As you walk into Brackett Hall, you find yourself in a multistory atrium, with an open staircase. There are student computer workstations against the east wall, which is punctuated with windows. Swirling around the windows is a series of sculptures of animals and plant material. There’s an acorn that’s close in size to the nearby rabbit, and a fly that’s not much smaller than the fox. A variety of leaves, a frog, a dolphin, a snail, a bear — somewhere around 75 different species are represented on the wall, no one significantly larger than the other.

Installed in 1999, this series of sculptures by Charleston-based artist Joe Walters is titled “Spiral Mesh.” The intentional scale discrepancies are meant to reinforce the interdependency of species within ecosystems. “Large mammals are given no more physical prominence than insects or other small creatures,” Walters said in his artist’s statement. “The surface treatment of the individual mixed media figures implies they are corroded iron. This creates a Pompeii-like archaeological context for the work and may metaphorically reference the fragility and fleetingness of life, which includes not only individual organisms, but ecological systems as a whole.”

“Spiral Mesh” is just one of 11 art installations on campus. The most recent, “Illuminated Chroma Wind Trees,” is being installed this spring in Core Campus and is a part of the Atelier InSite project. Students in Atelier InSite Creative Inquiry classes work with faculty mentors to develop criteria for artworks based on site selection, present concepts to key constituency groups and participate in the decision-making process for artist selection. 

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