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New sculpture unveiled on UMFK campus

June 21, 2004



Members of the UMFK campus community and friends of the university gathered recently for the unveiling of "Light Column", a new sculpture on the campus quad purchased with "Percent for Art" funds for Nadeau Hall and the new Acadian Archives building.

The University of Maine at Fort Kent officially unveiled a newly erected sculpture entitled "Light Column" during a ceremony on the campus quad today.

The twelve-foot one-inch high, four-foot nine-inch wide, and two-foot five-inch deep piece of art features a dark gray granite for the stepped base, Finnish Granite for the pillared central section, and African Red Granite for the semi-circular top section. Along with the granite, the top section holds approximately 30 layers of half-inch plate glass which will reflect light onto the campus.

According to President Richard Cost, "Today's celebration not only marks the first viewing of a wonderful piece of art but represents the culmination of a period of unprecedented growth here at UMFK."

Speaking to the artist he continued "Our bright clear atmosphere is a singular characteristic of this valley and your column of light capitalizes on that brilliance. I look forward to seeing the column in the early morning as the sun shines through it from the East and enlightens it as it sets in the West."

The money used to fund the sculpture came from a percentage of the cost to construct both Nadeau Hall and the new Acadian Archives Building. In the State of Maine, one percent of the total cost of construction of publicly funded buildings must be set aside for art purposes. There are no stipulations on exactly how the money is to be used.

In order to allocate these funds in an appropriate manner consistent with the campus community and the state law, a committee was formed, which consisted of local artists, facilities management, administrators, and a liaison from the Maine Arts Commission. As a committee they decided upon a public sculpture to be placed in the area between Cyr Hall and Blake Library.

"We chose a sculpture because we wanted it to be artwork that avails itself to everybody. The most public thing we could think of was an outdoor sculpture," said Scott Voisine, director of student services and chair of the committee. The only parameter that the committee set was that they wanted the sculpture to be "art for arts sake."

After reviewing thousands of works by artists on the Maine Arts Commission roster, three were invited to the University of Maine at Fort Kent campus.

Of those three "Christoph Spath was chosen because his work most exemplified what the committee was looking for in an artwork. We appreciated its mass, its relationship to the natural elements surrounding the campus, and its aesthetic appeal," added Voisine.

In his comments Spath said, "The size and shape of the sculpture was designed to relate to the site and surrounding architecture in scale, color and form."

"This sculpture is made of granite and glass; two traditional and natural elements pieced together and sculpted into an elegant, modern form. Is this not a fitting testament to our campus? Our cornerstones are built upon solid traditions, yet we are poised to accept the realities of the future. We, as the sculpture, are simultaneously traditional and modern. The sculpture is solid and here to stay and so is the campus," said Voisine in his speech.

"The sculpture will create a gathering space and it will be the focal point located in the center of the University campus. The glass element in the top section of the sculpture will gather and reflect sunlight from various angles throughout the day. It symbolizes the gathering and distribution of mental energy, thought and communication, the central activity at the University," added Spath.

Spath was born in Stuttgart, Germany in 1957 and studied both architecture and stone sculpture in Aachen and Düsseldorf.

In 1981 he moved to the United States and now resides in Lambertville, New Jersey.

His sculptures are primarily carved in stone which he often combines with glass and light. His works are found in many public collections and have been exhibited throughout the United States and Europe.