A Unique Work of Art in One of Utah's Newest Public Spaces

Mar 22, 2012

Kerry Bringhurst had the opportunity to have a conversation with the artist commissioned to construct and install a hanging sculpture in Utah State University's new Agricultural Research & Science Building, "kinetic sculptor" Tim Prentice from Connecticut.

The new building is recognized for its energy efficiency and everything about it reflects the theme of nature. Prentice's sculpture is inspired by grass.

About the building and the large atrium where the piece is located, Prentice says, "They said expect to see something very very subtle. I wouldn't call it a gentle space so this is something that makes it kinder and softer and friendlier."

The Piece Itself
"We made this abstract metallic plant, which you might call a permaplant that doesn't need water. It's like a hanging garden in effect, but it's manmade. The idea is to have it respond to the light that comes into the space, because plants are heliotropic."

"This piece is extremely light, almost gossamer, so even from some angles it almost disappears. It's a very thin curtain made out of very shiny narrow tubes of polished aluminum."

You don't normally see something depicting grass from down below but that's what the viewer experiences when they walk into the room.

The way this piece hangs in the space you would think it would be difficult to install. The sculpture is 20 feet tall and 8 feet wide, which is a lot of square footage, but it only weighs 40 pounds and is secured to two points.

The sculpture was made at Prentice's farm house studio in Connecticut. The artist and his team assembled the whole thing at the studio first and then took it partially apart, into a kind of kit, before it was shipped to Logan to be reassembled inside the new building.

Prentice's work was selected among many submissions for the public space. He sent a booklet with sketches and verbal description of the design to each member of the committee. He also included a DVD which shows him talking about the work and working on a model. He says the video was an important part of the submission, "Because my work is all about movement. It's kinetic."

Then there was a conference call with the committee. What did they ask about when they had the chance to interview the artist? "Maintenance and dust," Prentice says.