Outdoor Sculptures at WVU Creative Arts Center
Artist Johnathan Cox beside the Arts Center's first permanent outdoor sculpture, The Discovery IV.
Backstory and Context
Around the perimeter of the WVU Creatives Arts Center is an outdoor sculpture site, comprised of permanent and temporary sculptures. The various permanent sculptures all have similar themes of synthesis to the natural environment and industrial elements.
Installed in 2008, a 10 foot tall, 8 foot wide rectangular steel framed structure sturdily sits in front of Beechurst Avenue and the WVU Creative Arts Center. Designed by Ohioan artist Kevin Lyles, the “Last Dance” is filled with river stones to illustrate purpose and contrast of organic elements and manufactured components. This was successfully funded by the Myers Foundations and coordinated by Alison Helm, Director of the WVU School of Art and Design. Lyles was a visiting sculpture at WVU, and has had his works exhibited at Snowshoe Institute.
Standing in front of the Creative Arts Center is WVU’s first permanent structure, The Discovery IV. Weighing 1500 pounds at 19 feet tall, “The Discovery IV” was created by Johnathan Cox, a professor at Marshall University. The design process started with the Imperial Darby marble base to represent a beginning and a birth of the sculpture. From there, the stainless steel leaf component was made, with utilization of line and form, symbolic of the artistic relationship between West Virginia University and Marshall University.
“The Bubble Pack Bench Series” can be found on the left side facing the Creative Arts Center, featuring two bronze benches created by WVU Professor Dylan Collins. Both chairs are of different styles, but with the same methodology: cast iron mold and bubble wrap. His design process resulted in the peculiar bubble wrap pattern, found all over the furnishing. Collins sculpted this series to learn and have a chance to experiment with inorganic elements.
Another permanent piece is found on the right side of the Creative Arts Center, titled “Earth Giant.” “Earth Giant” was sculpted by Benjamin Gazsi, a former sculpture student at West Virginia University. It held 6th place at a prestigious international competition, ArtPrize, which featured more than 1,800 artists. “Earth Giant” comprises of concrete, resembles a human head emerging from the ground, and is split into layers. When observing the piece, its separated components requires viewers to walk around it to see the human head. Gazsi’s work has also been exhibited at Cooper’s Rock.
“WVU Student earns sixth place in international art competition.” WVU Today Archive. University Relations. 17 Oct, 2013. http://wvutoday-archive.wvu.edu/n/2013/10/17/wvu-student-earns- sixth-place-in-international-art-competition.html
“First permanent sculpture installed at WVU Creative Arts Center.” WVU Today Archive. University
Relations. 14 March, 2008.http://wvutoday-archive.wvu.edu/n/2008/03/14/6617.html
Collins, Dylan. Personal Interview. 16 Apr. 2018.