Public art for new education building revealed

Lynda Rothermel (left), campus architect, presented SGA with the public art planned for the new education building at last Wednesday’s meeting. (Elizabeth Yacone / Staff Photographer)

Campus architect Lynda Rothermel presented the Student Government Association with the public art planned for the College’s new education building during last Wednesday’s meeting. The artwork currently under consideration is a 22-foot high, 1-inch thick anodized aluminum rendering of a schoolhouse. Designed by Tom Nussbaum, a Montclair, N.J. artist, the sculpture will feature education-related designs composing the “rooms” of the schoolhouse, such as apples.

“Many components are related to education, and some come from New Jersey quilt patterns … We discussed incorporating the former names of (the College) into the piece – Trenton State College, the Normal School,” Rothermel said.

To accommodate blind and deaf individuals, the structure will contain “visual, tactile and sound elements,” according to the artist. Plans include a working bell at the top of the sculpture and a Braille description of its elements near it.

“My goal is to create a visually compelling work of art that will be a beacon for the School of Education and is meaningful and accessible to its diverse

SGA

population,” Nussbaum said in a statement. “I hope to draw audiences into a physical and intellectual engagement with the artwork.”

“The purpose of this (structure) is to function as a pedagogical tool for academic programs,” Rothermel echoed.

A 17-member selection committee chose Nussbaum’s work from hundreds of submissions. According to Rothermel, the committee contained faculty, staff, students, the College’s gallery director, Sarah Cunningham, College architects and representatives from the New Jersey State Council of the Arts (NJSCA) and the College’s Board of Trustees.

The project will be financed by “approximately one-third of one percent of funds from the project for public art,” which translates to $133,244 from the bond.

An open forum will be held from 12:30 to 2 p.m. today, Wednesday, Sept. 29, in the auditorium of the Physics Building of the Science Complex (SBP 101). It will discuss “the College’s public art program, the campus as a home for public art, and the selection process for the artist chosen to create a work for the new School of Education … (and) provide opportunities for feedback and input from the campus,” according to an office of Student Activities e-mail.

According to the e-mail, Nussbaum will be in attendance and will participate in the open forum.

“The artist is willing to, and interested in, working with the committee and students to finalize the components,” Rothermel said.

“So if you didn’t like ‘Pixels,’ come on out,” SGA executive president Olaniyi Solebo said, referring to the public art installed in front of the new Art and Interactive Multimedia building last year.

The College hopes to engage students in the process of selecting public art this time, perhaps as a response to the outcry after the four large, colorful spheres comprising “Pixels” were installed without many students’ knowledge, according to Magna Minetas, SGA advisor.

“It’s the process of being open to feedback,” Manetas said.

Installation for the finalized public art is scheduled for Spring 2012.

Also at the Wednesday meeting, vice president of Academic Affairs Katie Cugliotta discussed a proposal by the Committee on Academic Programs (CAP) regarding mid-semester grades.

Currently, Educational Opportunity Fund students are required to obtain mid-semester grades. A sub-committee of CAP considered whether a College policy should be established requiring professors to provide students with mid-semester grades.

“While most of the current students polled supported having mid-semester feedback, a large percentage of faculty surveyed were reluctant to endorse a college-wide policy that might be broadly conceived and, perhaps, implemented in ways that restricted their professional freedom,” reads the preliminary recommendation on the policy.

CAP did not endorse a policy to require professors to provide students with grades mid-semester, but did recommend professors give students “substantive feedback on academic progress at least one week prior to the course withdrawal date,” and “that each department determine the nature of this feedback and the method in which it is given.”

“The resolution was very broad and not very specific,” Cugliotta said.

She mentioned everyone on her committee supported professors making mid-semester grades available.

“What … if it were to go on SOCS?” Cugliotta offered.

Cugliotta urged students to attend the open forum on the resolution, to be held from 2 to 3 p.m. today in Roscoe West Hall 202.

“It’s an issue that is pertinent to students,” Cugliotta said.

The SGA also commended senior English major Matty Daley and sophomore interactive multimedia major Bobby Canciello for breaking the World’s Longest Kiss record after kissing for 32.5 hours from Saturday Sept. 18 to Sunday Sept. 19.

“The (SGA) at (the College) looks forward to continuing to partner with students and campus organizations to promote a culture of diversity awareness and acceptance,” reads commendation C-F2010-01.

The commendation was passed by a unanimous vote.

Emily Brill can be reached at brill3@tcnj.edu.