By Megan O’Connell
Very few students take the time to appreciate the beauty and complex construction of the six abstract sculptures on both of Rider’s campuses. Many have no idea what they are or who made them.
“I’ve never actually taken the time to stop and look at them,” sophomore Lindsey Fonseca said.
Modernist sculptor Isaac Witkin designed and created each piece. In March 2005, Witkin displayed some of his art at Rider during an exhibition called Out of the Crucible: Images Born of Fire and Water. It was set up by Harry Naar, director of Rider’s art gallery.
This was Witkin’s last one-man exhibition. He died on April 23, 2006. In February 2007, Witkin’s daughter approached Naar and asked if Rider would be interested in a lease for some of her father’s sculptures.
“It never entered my mind that Rider would obtain any of these sculptures because they are so valuable,” Naar said. “I hope students will start to see the sculptures from all different angles and positions. They are alive because you can move around them and are always changing due to the environment.”
Sophomore and underground artist Dominic Calise agrees.
“For modern sculptures, they’re not bad because your eye never wants to look in one spot,” he said.
Witkin is widely recognized as one of the most original sculptors in the modern era. During his 50-year career, he touched upon every major development in modern sculpture.
The sculptures displayed at Rider were chosen to show different phases of the artist’s development. Each is constructed of COR-TEN steel, or weathering steel, which is a group of steel alloys that gradually maintains a rust-like appearance when exposed to weather for a period of time.
The six sculptures are:
-The Hunt (1970), painted COR-TEN steel, located north of the front entrance to Moore Library.
-Chesterwood (1980), painted COR-TEN steel, located on the green to the south of Moore Library.
-Shogun (1968), painted COR-TEN steel with copper spray finish, located in front of Fine Arts on the academic quad.
-Night Rupert (1977), painted COR-TEN steel, located behind Moore library next to Memorial Hall.
-Dirge (1968), painted COR-TEN steel, located on the academic quad.
-Taurus (1975), painted COR-TEN steel, located on the Westminster campus in front of Williamson Hall.
According to sophomore Tina Morris, the sculptures do not fit in with the school.
“They don’t flow with the atmosphere of the rest of the campus,” she said.
Naar, however, maintains that the placement of each sculpture was well thought out.
“They were each carefully placed on campus where they could be seen as well as where they are able to blend and mingle with the environment,” Naar explained.
The sculptures were originally leased to Rider for three to four years. Rather than question them, students can try to appreciate the detail and hard work put behind each one before they are gone.