New “Aggregation” art piece installed at EMU as part of public art budget
For the past week, the EMU green has been crowded with construction workers, cranes and large rocks in order to install the newest addition to the EMU — an art piece titled “Aggregation.”
The art piece comes from Portland-based artist Adam Kuby as a part in his series of “disintegrated” art, in which he takes an object and breaks it down into several smaller pieces.
According to Oregon state legislature, one percent of the budget of a public building has to be set aside for public art.
When the EMU was renovated, one percent of the budget was set aside for public art like the piece designed by Kuby.
“Aggregation” is represented through six sites surrounding the EMU green, each containing a four-by-four granite block that was quarried in Eastern Oregon. As one moves around the circle, the blocks break down into smaller pieces from one solid cube to a cluster of 32 broken pieces.
“The concept is that as one moves around the circle, the blocks have been broken into increasingly smaller pieces,” Kuby said.
Five of the blocks were etched with quotes from UO graduates, while one is etched with a quote from current student Pallavi Webb.
Kuby said he was inspired to include quotes in the piece after he spent six months at the American Institute in Rome in 2014.
The unbroken block of granite that sits on the side of the EMU is etched with a quote by Dr. Virginia Beaver who received her Ph.D. at UO. Beaver served as a liaison between the different Native American tribes in Oregon, according to Kuby.
“We all felt that her text should be in her native language and that it should go on the unbroken block,” Kuby said.
The quote reads, “we were given life to take care of everything on this earth,” in Beaver’s native language.
“The conceptual part of that, thinking about student life and our shared communal life, is that one event or one person or one action can disseminate out to many, but also the small voices of actions of multiple people can coalesce into one significant act or change or event,” Kuby said.
Kuby said the history of the EMU’s political and social activism played a role in his design. He said he encourages people to interact with the blocks.
“Part of the piece is to create a place for people to gather,” Kuby said.
The installation started last Saturday and is scheduled to finish this week.
In order to install the large blocks of granite, construction workers had to use a crane to move the blocks. Then they were placed on blocks of ice so that as the blocks melted, the granite would slowly be placed onto the ground.
“It’s a really cool process,” said Jessie Steward, associate director of the EMU.
The university assembled a committee comprised of students, architects and faculty from the art department to select the artist and work with them while they designed a piece for the EMU.
“It’s been about a year and a half in the works,” Steward said.
The EMU is set to install another art piece on the large white wall across from the ASUO offices. According to Steward, the piece is scheduled to be installed before homecoming week this fall.
“This piece is really about the students,” Kuby said. “It’s about voices of students who have been here and gone on to really keep growing and thinking.”