Outdoor Sculptures

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Review

After hearing about the outdoor sculptures on WWU’s campus, a neat row of classical Greek statues came immediately to my mind. As an art enthusiast, I felt it my duty to seek them out.

During my stroll around the campus, I walked past a large stone carving that looked like a man and an animal merged together. “Interesting,” I mused. But where are those outdoor sculptures?

I asked several students for directions, but to no avail. I sat down on a bench in the university’s red square and stared at a huge black metallic cube balanced on its tiptoe. For something so large it was amazingly unobtrusive. I then saw a wooden totem pole-like figurine camouflaged against a red brick wall background. As I looked around the university square more closely, I set my eyes on an upright cylindrical sculpture made of hay bales. “Tasteful,” I thought. Finally, I realized that I had been walking amongst the sculptures the entire time.

A good picture deserves a good frame and the red bricks of the campus provide the perfect surrounding for each piece. At first glance the sculptures appear to be placed randomly around the campus. Later I became aware of the subtle positioning of each sculpture. Whether in a shady groves of trees or in mid-square, each piece reflected its backdrop.

The very first sculpture was installed in 1960. It was commissioned from one of the Northwest’s most influential artists, James Fitzgerald. Since then, Western has continued to commission pieces from major international, national, and regional artists who have addressed various themes such as the interrelationship between nature and culture, types of narration, and personal perception. An additional 22 pieces have been added since then. More pieces are in progress.

Each piece is unique, contemplative, and inspirational, just as art, not to mention a university, should be. The real fun of the outdoor sculptures is hunting for them. So why not head up there, bring the kids, and go on a sculpture safari.

Note: Although the main concentration of sculptures is on Western's campus, the city of Bellingham has also commissioned several sculptures which are spread throughout town. Check out the corner of Magnolia and Railroad St. or on State St. next to the upper entrance of Boulevard Park.
Written By: Hilary Higgins
On: 12/30/1998

Directions

Simply head up to the university from downtown Bellingham or Fairhaven or, from out of town, from the MacDonald Pkwy exit. The best place to start your hunt is from WWU's Red Square. Or get an info brochure from the West Gallery Building.

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