New Side Sculpture Appears, and Boy is it Fun


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Peirce Hall just got a whole lot more exciting. Not only are the post-break floors extremely shiny, but a new chandelier-like sculpture, “White-Tipped Blooming” by James Surls now dangles from the ceiling of Thomas Hall. An email from Gund Gallery director Natalie Marsh states:


As “La Montagne” left a new Gund Gallery Collection work was installed on campus.  A sculpture entitled “White-Tipped Blooming” (1993) by contemporary artist James Surls (b.1943) now hangs in the northern-most end of Dempsey Hall in the Thomas Hall Dining Room.  The steel and oak chandelier-like piece is inspired by tree branches laden with large budding flowers. Surls is an American artist who has derived much of his artistic inspiration from nature and the landscape of East Texas.  After graduating from Sam Houston State Teachers College in 1966, Surls earned an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1968.  Throughout his career, he has developed a handcrafted, rustic aesthetic that has taken form in drawings, prints and sculptures depicting natural and human forms. “White-Tipped Blooming” exemplifies many outstanding characteristics of Surls’s oeuvre, which call to mind the artistic traditions on which he builds his practice: the unique oak-and-steel construction consists of expressively carved biomorphic forms that conjure primitivist aesthetics and mythical imagery of early 20th-century avant-garde sculpture, while the humble, organic materials pay homage to American folk art.

Students described the sculpture as “vaguely menacing” and “nice.” One sophomore stated “I don’t like how many strings are holding it up,” while others praised its tranquility.  Next time you find yourself on New Side, buckle on your art pants because eating split pea soup at 4 pm just got a lot more avant-garde.

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