Outdoor art installation draws attention to the importance of memorials


Emma Bartlett

Hughes’ COVID-19 inspired sculpture stands on display for students outside the Fine Arts Center.

Emma Bartlett, Arts and Culture Editor

This semester, students in the RWU Art Department’s Foundations of Sculpture class focused on a monuments project with the idea that this art form was ever-changing and omnipresent. The finished sculptures were displayed outside the Fine Arts Center in an exhibition titled “Reimaging the Memorial: An outdoor installation of Sculpture surrounding the Art Building.”

Each students’ work stood on one of the pedestals outside of the Fine Arts Center. These pedestals held their own meaning since they were lasting pieces of the porch that was once attached to the art building when it used to function as the university’s cafeteria years ago. Students chose where their art stood and were asked to consider the site’s history, position on campus and its relation to the ambient space.

Students spent two to three weeks working on their sculptures in the art building as well as within their dorms. While there was a lot of leeway in the project, students needed to include three components: something carved, something found and something casted. With these guidelines, students took creative liberties to develop something that mattered to them.

Sophomore Haillie Bakula felt compelled to construct a memorial of her cat, Peanut, who passed away.

“I wanted to make something inspired by her because it really did break me and I wanted to share my feelings,” Bakula said.

Bakula composed her sculpture with a variety of materials including chicken wire, plaster gauze, clay and cellophane. Additionally, she placed a cardinal on her work which signified a loved one was watching over you.

Freshman Casidhe Hughes took a different approach to her project, which was inspired by COVID-19.

The top of Hughes’ sculpture was influenced by the looks of the COVID-19 cell. Meanwhile, three entangled arms being hurt by flames reached up toward the cell. The idea behind her piece was that it is human nature to come together to want to solve this problem. However, in the case of COVID-19, coming together actually hurt us even though it was our natural response. To create her work, Hughes used chicken wire, paint and plaster gauze, wood and wire.

From sculptures inspired by past photography projects to others inspired by artists such as Keith Haring, David Lynch and Basquiat, the Foundations of Sculpture class put on a showcase that revealed a lot of talent.

“Everyone really brought a personal voice to it,” said Professor of Art Elizabeth Duffy. “Each voice feels present. Each feels so very different. It was a lot of trial and error, but they made remarkable work.”