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Caine College professor designs Ag sculpture

staff writer

Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:01

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THE NEW STATUE OUTSIDE of the Ag Building, “Whispers in Silence,” was sculpted by Ryoichi Suzuki, assistant professor of sculpture for the Caine College of the Arts. SAMANTHA BEHL photo

 

Erected in late November of last semester, a white marble sculpture now sits on the northwest corner of the Agriculture building.  The sculpture is composed of two graceful curves stacked on top of one another, depicting the concept of what artist Ryoichi Suzuki, assistant professor of sculpture for the Caine College of the Arts, calls flow.

“It looks like a bad sculpture of a butterfly,” said Kathita Chilladakorn, a graduate student majoring in engineering.

Vineet Lakhlani, a graduate student studying finance and economics, said the gentle curves of the piece reminded him of colliding waves or even lips. Lakhlani suggested students start kissing at the “lips” statue and then proceed to the True Aggie Block A to make out all the way.  

“You can’t stop,” he said. “You have walk and keep kissing the whole way.”

“I think it’s really pretty in kind of an austere way,” said Anna Harris, a senior studying political science. “I heard tell that it was suggested that people could play on it, which would make it fun.” 

The piece itself was carved out of a 11,000 pound block of Yule  marble from Colorado. Suzuki acquired the marble through a grant from the Department of Research and Graduate Studies, the Caine College of the Arts and Design and a private donation from the Larry Elsner Foundation. 

“I got the block of marble at the end of May,” Suzuki said. “That’s when we started cutting chunks off.  Then the sculpture itself was done in mid August, so it took a little over three months to do.”

In comparison to other pieces of a similar size, Suzuki said he didn’t feel like it took too long to complete.

“It didn’t feel like it was too long for me.” Suzuki said. “Part of the proposal for the grant that I received was that I would hire students to work on the piece so that they would learn about the process of carving a large piece of stone. I had four students help and work with me throughout the summer.”

Suzuki said it wasn’t just the extra set of hands that made the workload easier. He also had freedom of mind, which allowed him to focus on the piece completely.

“For that three months, that was the only thing that I was thinking about,” Suzuki said. “I was having a great time actually. I was having total fun because I didn’t have to worry about teaching classes or doing paperwork. That was all I did. That’s what I like to do. I am a sculptor.”

The project took its toll on Suzuki physically. He said he lost 15 lbs at the height of the summer when he was halfway done with the piece, but said the sacrifice was well worth the opportunity to work on such an impressive piece. 

“Physically, it was very demanding,” Suzuki said. “I carved the whole thing in the parking lot in front of the sculpture building, so it got really hot.”

This is the largest piece that Suzuki has ever been the primary artist on, having helped friends work on similar sized pieces. He said the chance to work on this project was one he couldn’t pass up.  

Suzuki said he likes to hear what others think of when they see his sculpture because for him the image that he was trying to achieve was abstract, but still had a great sense of flow.

“I’ve been working with the image of the flow of things,” Suzuki said. “It is always happening in nature with clouds and the flow of rivers, but the concept of flowing described by lines, planes and light. That’s one of the main concerns when I design my sculptures.”

Suzuki said he has carved in many different mediums, such as stone and wood, taking into account the flow of the grain in mediums to mimic the flow of the overall form of the sculpture.  

Suzuki said he has decided to name the piece “Whispers in Silence,” a suggestion made by a long-time friend and USU colleague who passed away last fall. Although the piece is not dedicated specifically to his friend, Suzuki said the name was to honor their 35 year friendship. 

“Originally I was going to title the piece ‘nagare,’ which means ‘flow’ in Japanese, but it didn’t feel right,” Suzuki said. “But it was the title that his friend gave the piece that felt right.”  

Suzuki said there is nothing in particular he wants people to see or feel when they look at his piece, and that to him that is what art is about.  

The piece is scheduled to be officially dedicated with a ribbon cutting during Arts Week on Jan. 22 at 4 p.m.

 

– kiel.reid@aggiemail.usu.edu

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