• Atelier InSite Sparks Creativity at Clemson’s Core

    By Tara Romanella

Core Campus is a hub of activity. It’s a place where students can dine, study and even sleep. Now they’ll also be able to experience an original work of art by nationally and internationally acclaimed artist Koryn Rolstad of Koryn Rolstad Studios in Seattle.

A dazzling array of translucent, colored, winged elements, “Illuminated Chroma Wind Trees” was commissioned by Atelier InSite, Clemson’s Public Art Program, a student-driven Creative Inquiry initiative to bring artwork to the University. The one-of-a-kind structure has two components: 90 tree forms that are featured on the outside of the building and more than 1,200 bird-like wing forms that appear to be flying inside.

“This is a uniquely Clemson project in that it is a ‘by students, for students’ endeavor,” said David Detrich, one of three professors leading Atelier InSite’s efforts. “It is important to the campus for the simple fact that it makes visible, in a very public and tangible way, human creativity which enhances the existing cultural capital that makes this University such a distinctive place.”

Michala Stewart is a rising senior participating in Atelier InSite. She was one of seven students who helped assemble the structure in May by putting together approximately 15,000 individual parts, including screws, metal rods and, of course, purple and orange acrylic wing-shaped forms.

“Clemson is a great University nationally known for programs like engineering and architecture,” said Stewart. “But by incorporating works like this in public places we can educate the campus about the other majors here. Otherwise, art may only stay in our department, and it’s something we should share with everyone.”

This is one of several large-scale pieces made possible by Atelier InSite and Clemson’s Percent for Art policy. Guided by Thomas Green Clemson’s belief that art is “the magic bonds which unite all ages and nations,” the policy requires that 0.5 percent of the construction value of any new capital project is to be used for public artwork. Students must be engaged in the process of acquiring any work.

Following the announcement of the 260,000-square-foot Core Campus building, Atelier InSite students knew they’d have the opportunity to incorporate art. In 2015, they put together a request for qualifications and more than 200 artists submitted their portfolios for consideration.

“The process of commissioning an artist is certainly art in itself,” said Kayla Smith ’15 a former Atelier InSite Creative Inquiry student who was involved in the Core Campus selection process. “We were not simply shopping for art to fill a space. As a class, we established guidelines for any future artwork and used these as a framework in reviewing artist portfolios.”

The students worked with campus constituents and the public to narrow down the submissions to 50, then 12, and finally down to three. The remaining artists were required to submit their proposals for the space.

“Koryn was chosen for her tremendous track record of international and national projects and her ability to design a site-specific sculpture,” said Detrich.

Rolstad’s work can be seen across the country on campuses and in public facilities. With a background in architecture, engineering and fine arts, Rolstad has a keen eye for structural detail and works to ensure each piece fits within the environment where it will be housed. Inspired by nature, her two- and three-dimensional projects are meant to be both fun and educational.

Atelier InSite’s next project is already under way. Installation for their next work in Lee III is expected to begin in 2018. Students also will commission artwork for Clemson’s new Allen N. Reeves Football Complex in the near future.

Learn more about Core Campus at Clemson and view a slideshow of images.