Art installation

Arts Walk installation opens

A sculpture to “be in,” says chancellor

February 18, 2020
Author: Imran Ghori
February 18, 2020

UC Riverside’s new outdoor art installation is now open to the public.

The campus celebrated the project completion Feb. 11 with a dedication ceremony in the middle of the bright yellow signs, concrete furniture, and garden landscape that make up the 5,000-square-foot circular sculpture outside the Arts building.

Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox said the installation redefines the walkway at one of the campus’ main entrances.

“I want you to come in and be in the sculpture,” he said. “That for me really defines the space. It isn’t something you stand back and look at, but it’s something you walk into, that you come into, that you sit in.”

The piece by San Diego artist Roy McMakin is titled “a circular sculpture about usefulness amongst other things.” It features more than a dozen steel poles with aluminum signs on top that read either “Things” or “Change.” The words are also affixed to a rotating turbine amid the Cottonwood trees, green and yellow plants, and concrete benches and seats.

McMakin said he’s pleased with the results. He said he was given both great creative freedom in deciding its design and specific directions on what the campus wanted to achieve.

“It was a wonderful mixed message for me,” he said, noting he had to balance “how to be utilitarian and create a sense of place and a sense of usefulness and make it a spot that people would notice and stop.”

McMakin, who often works with furniture in his work, said the installation reflects “issues of utility and design intersecting with art.”

The artist has had over 30 solo exhibitions, and his work has been featured in major museums including the Hammer Museum at UCLA; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

He also created an outdoor installation at UC San Francisco’s Mission Bay campus that features stone, wood, bronze, and fiberglass materials made to resemble laboratory freezers, cardboard boxes, and plastic patio chairs — all functional for seating yet rearranged in unique ways.

Jim Isermann, a UCR art professor who first proposed the project to the Advisory Committee on Campus Art, recounted the long journey to make the project a reality that began over a decade ago. The piece was initially shelved due to budgetary reasons but revived a few years ago.

“Great thanks to Roy, his patience, and his willingness to ride this 12-year roller coaster and taking advantage of every bump and turn to rethink and make the project better along the way,” he said.