A trip to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City led to the inspiration for Sculpture 013 class’s installation outside the Chandler-Ulmann building. According to its proposal, the piece was inspired by and is connected to George Segal’s plaster figures, one of which is titled “Walk Don’t Walk” and is featured in the Whitney.
Another one of Segal’s figures can be found on Lehigh’s Memorial Walkway. The “Woman on Park Bench”, a plaster-cast statue of Segal’s daughter, was a gift to Lehigh from the George and Helen Segal Foundation.
The seven students involved in the project helped each other create life-sized plaster casts of one another. Each figure was placed around the fountain outside Chandler-Ullmann in various poses.
“Before they started they brainstormed about different ways they would do it as a group project and thought about different places on campus where it would have a good impact,” said Lucy Gans, the course professor. “And then also I pushed them to have some underlying message so it was not just students frolicking in the trees.”
The students said they took photos outside around the fountain in order to plan what the best configuration for the figures would be.
In order to make the plaster casts, each student had to cover their body in Vaseline before wrapping one another it in wet bandages. After the bandages were applied, each student had to let it set for 30 to 40 minutes. When the bandages set, they were cut off and put back together to form the final sculpture.
Gans said she thought the students sculpting each other would be a good bonding experience.
The class said the hardest part of the process was trying to figure out how to cut people out of the plaster cast. Students also said it was difficult to be still for that long period of time.
According to the class proposal, the installation originally was supposed to be “a reaction to the drought in California and, by extension, the global water crisis linked to poverty, industry and waste.”
“It is supposed to be a comment on the drought in California and the use of water, but it also became more about the process of making it than the subject,” Domenica Massamby, ’17, said.
The fountain that the sculptures are placed around has not been working the past semester due to a leak, and it is unknown when it will be running again. This made it the ideal location for the installation.
“We also thought having it closer to the building extends the identity of the program and department,” Gans said.
The Sculpture 013 class hopes that by having its installation outside Chandler-Ullmann, it will allow Lehigh students to get a glimpse of and gain an appreciation for what happens in their department.
“You have to come in here to see a lot of student exhibits, but now that the exhibit is outside students from any school and any major can walk by on the way to the library or the UC and see some student work that is done here in the department,” Julie McCooey, ’19, said.
The installation will be displayed until the end of the Fall 2015 semester.