Composed of abstract forms that reference the hull of an ocean vessel or the body of a fish, Schooling takes inspiration from its orientation in the Graduate School of Oceanography’s main atrium space opposite Narragansett Bay. Comprised of four separate forms, the sculpture’s layered forms repeat and aggregate into a wedge-like massing of more than two hundred individual sculptures evoking the schooling habits of fish. Each individual form is semitransparent to evoke the shimmering and diaphanous quality of ocean life.
“This sculpture reflects the Graduate School of Oceanography’s activities in a subtle and pleasing way,” said GSO Dean David Farmer. “The image shifts between a school of fish and inverted ship hulls, depending on the direction of view and the changing light. It is an appropriate and welcome addition to our Ocean Science and Exploration Center.”
Schooling was commissioned by the University of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts through the Allocation for Art for Public Facilities Act, which recognizes that art in public places creates a more humane environment. Garten was selected from a national field of artists for his nuanced approach to creating evocative and seamless site-specific sculpture.
Given its central location in the Ocean Science and Exploration Center, Garten designed Schooling to capture the institution’s spirit of research and innovation. Furthermore, its title and form reference biological behaviors of fish and other ocean life as a metaphor for Garten’s ongoing sculptural investigations into material, light, repetition, and movement.
Illuminated by full color LED lights, Schooling is suspended by fine aircraft cables at various heights. Taking advantage of a full interaction with sunlight in the atrium during the day, the sculpture is also illuminated with a line of LED track lighting along the sculpture’s edge making it particularly dramatic at dusk when the LED light merges with the setting sun.
About Cliff Garten (www.cliffgartenstudio.com)
Internationally celebrated sculptor Cliff Garten is sought after for his evocative and nuanced site-specific sculpture. Garten creates large-scale sculptures that seamlessly integrate within urban space, landscape, and infrastructure environments. His body of work has been praised for the way it utilizes light to create energy, inspires interest in public activity, and reframes a sense of place within public and private realms. Over the past twenty years, Garten has completed more than fifty artworks for public and private places throughout the U.S. and Canada in collaboration with significant architecture, landscape architecture, and engineering projects. He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bush Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Americans for the Arts Public Art Network, and American Society of Landscape Architects. His studio is based in Venice, California.
Schooling, by sculptor Cliff Garten, in the URI Ocean Science and Exploration Center.