A play of perception

Sam Fox School celebrates 27th annual University City Sculpture Series

A Play of Perception by Sarah Theis. Installed in Mooney Park, it is one of five works included in the 2013 University City Sculpture Series. Photo by James Byard/WUSTL Photo Services.

What you see often depends on where you stand.

A simple truth, perhaps, but one that bears remembering. For Sarah Theis, a senior in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the observation served as a starting point for A Play of Perception, her contribution to the annual University City Sculpture Series.

Now in its 27th year, the series provides students with valuable hands-on experience in developing works of public art. Participants choose locations, estimate costs, design models and make professional presentations before University City’s Municipal Commission on Arts & Letters. Winning projects — funded by the city and the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis — are then constructed, installed and unveiled.

Theis was one of five students — along with Dara Katzenstein, Seth Czaplewski, Catherine Leberg and Jon Orosco — selected to install works this spring. They remain on view through Sept. 10.

A Play of Perception, located in Mooney (aka Jackson) Park, consists of four brightly colored steel circles, each containing a distinct image. Yet when viewed straight-on, these images line up to form a single landscape. The artist explains that she hopes the piece will create “a sense of wonder” while providing park-goers with a new lens through which to view otherwise familiar sights.

Theis’ piece shared “Best of Show” award honors with Leberg’s The Seed Men. As much an exercise in community outreach as in object-making, The Seed Men was created with assistance from fourth-grade art students at Barbara C. Jordan Elementary School. Using a special “seed paper,” the students constructed small, paper-maché-like human figures that, when planted and cultivated, sprout either wildflowers or basil houseplants.

“Even as more people move into cities, and the urban and suburban setting becomes more encompassing of land area, the importance of the green space must remain a focus,” Leberg says. “Like our histories and our cultures, this is something we pass along, through our actions, our words, our art.”

In conjunction with the sculpture series, Buzz Spector, the Dean and
Jane Reuter Hitzeman and Herbert F. Hitzeman Jr. Professor of Art, organized an exhibition titled Community Visuals: A Student Exhibition in 2-Dimensions, for the University City Public Library.

The exhibition featured more than 20 prints, paintings and drawings by Sam Fox School students. Rachael Tellerman, a senior painting major, took Best of Show honors.

Click here for map of sculpture projects.

Click here for photos of the works-in-progress.

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