Making Waves

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Plensa Waves III at Davidson

Waves III joins Davidson’s 
growing campus sculpture collection.

By Bill Giduz

A new work of art has spurred conversation and contemplation at the reengineered confluence of heavily traveled sidewalks between Chambers Building and several residence halls. Waves III, the stone and stainless steel sculpture created in 2011 by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, is the fifth addition in Davidson’s campus sculpture program.

From a distance Waves III appears as a loosely defined figure seated and holding its knees on the 7,000 pound rock where it rests. Up close, however, the shape is revealed to be created by hundreds of interconnected letters and symbols of varying size from many different languages.

Professor Cort Savage, chair of the art department and director of its initiatives in sculpture, said Waves III represents Davidson’s academic emphasis on cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study.

“The manner in which it’s constructed of letters and symbols from different languages lends it a cross-cultural sensibility,” said Savage.

“The meditative figure juxtaposed with the dynamically moving letters and symbols parallels the sensibility of our students. Even in a moment of repose, the figure is teeming with inquiries in constant motion. I find it ideally appropriate for Davidson’s liberal arts campus, which so highly values the life of the mind.”

Waves III is a gift from James G. Pepper, a 1965 Davidson graduate and longtime supporter of the college’s art program. Pepper has made generous gifts to support the Pepper Visual Arts Scholarship, gave 32 pieces of art several years ago, and with his mother in 1993 presented the college with an original sculpture of Jean d’Aire by Rodin that stands in the atrium of the Belk Visual Arts Center.

Savage said Waves III is an important addition to Davidson’s outdoor sculpture collection. “It’s a step toward our goal of bringing a museum-quality, world-class collection of art to the doorstep and daily experience of all those who visit and inhabit Davidson’s campus. It not only beautifies the campus, but also evokes questions that apply pedagogically to multiple fields of study.”

The artist, Jaume Plensa, was born in Barcelona in 1955 and is one of the world’s foremost creators of public-space sculpture. His work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums throughout Europe, the United States and Japan.

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