Innovative ways to bring the public and art together are constantly sought. MadArt, an organization founded by Alison Milliman in 2009, is on a mission to do just that—to “rethink how and where we view art in our communities [and explore] the idea of creating opportunities to see artwork outside the familiar venues.”
Opening September 13, MadArt brings MadCampus to the University of Washington, turning it into “Seattle’s most expansive art gallery.” For six weeks, students and campus visitors will have a chance to view twelve sculptures created by thirteen artists, half of whom are UW Alumni. The pieces range in medium, style and conceptual approach, but all provide an opportunity to explore nooks and crannies of the campus and experience it in a new way.
The program is a full integration of MadArt and the University of Washington. Many fall quarter classes in the School of Art, Art History and Design have been designed around the exhibition. As a recent Art History graduate, the opportunity to view works such as these in situ is invaluable. It brings art out of the dark, basement classrooms and allows students to experience the work for themselves—perhaps sparking a new perspective or opinion. It was exciting and inspiring to see the campus where I had lived and worked for four years transformed into a haven for both artists and art lovers.
The curriculum designed by the University of Washington and MadArt also includes student led docent tours for students and visitors alike. The diversity of the audience is central to the mission of MadArt’s founder Milliman and its director, Tim Detweiler, who said, “It’s not just the art crowd that will be seeing these works…It will be business majors and psychology majors and all the rest. Everyone will be bumping into these pieces all over campus. Once their interest is piqued, our hope is that they continue to explore.”
With the school year beginning September 24, new students to the University of Washington will see this display of public art as the “norm”—perhaps fueling a future for more public art on campus.
A MadCampus art walk, hosted by Art Dawgs, will be held on September 28 from 11 AM to 3 PM. This is a great opportunity to get the entire family engaged, meet the artists behind the artwork, and enjoy snacks, swag and activities.
MadCampus will be on display through October 25.
My Top Picks
Wave Sine by W. Scott Trimble
This large wood piece is directly related to its physical surroundings—the Physics and Astronomy buildings. Trimble created this wave-like piece after talking with one of UW’s Physics professors. The sturdy construction encourages visitors and students to take a break or a snooze on one of its curving sections.
The Legend of Jerry Roundtree by Seth Friedman
With the piece’s location in Red Square, Friedman had some tough competition. The large, dominating structures of Meany Hall, Kane Hall, Gerberding, Odegaard Library, Suzzallo Library and Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk cast massive shadows across the large expanse of the square. But Friedman challenges these structures by creating a conversation through prismatic and geometric shapes.
Lone Stranger by Piper O’Neill
Piper O’Neill’s huge inflatable cowboy acts as a beacon—drawing those passing by and visitors onto the campus. Positioned on Fifteenth Avenue, its vibrant colors and cartoon-like form are an anomaly among gothic and institutional architecture. The icon of the “Lone Stranger” is one often seen in O’Neill’s most recent work (Marking Time at Winston Wachter). In Marking Time, O’Neill transforms the mundane into the precious. Her piece for MadCampus continues with this train of thought, but plays with scale as well.
Relics of Experience by Evan Blackwell
Located near the Burke Museum, Blackwell’s earthenware collection boxes hold tiny ceramic artifacts—both real and imaginary. Blackwell drew inspiration from the museum’s vast collection of taxidermy, bones, textiles and other natural and cultural relics. Can you find the unicorn horn?
Untitled by Alyson Pisokorowski
Elevated in the dome canopy of the cherry trees in the Quad is Alyson Piskorowski’s piece for MadCampus. The hanging sculpture, constructed of reflective mylar tape, is reminiscent of a giant mobile. The unique geometric shape turns softly in the breeze, constantly changing one’s perception of the form. The reflective material interacts with the sunlight and wind—catching bits of green and gold in its strands. While the piece makes a huge statement, it is gentle on the old and delicate trees from which it hangs. (Despite its size, it only weighs 60 pounds!)