Monday, November 5, 2012

Environmental Artwork Removed from Wyoming Campus Amid Controversy

This piece by Chris Drury is very similar to the piece that
was installed at the University of Wyoming.  This one is
called Turning and was installed at the University of East
Anglia in Norwich, Norfolk England.  It doesn't look too
controversial to me.  Click for photo credit.
A piece of outdoor sculptural environmental artwork on the University of Wyoming Campus was removed over the summer at the request of donors and the University President.  You can read about it here and here.  It's been quite the controversy on that campus.

The piece, called Carbon Sink by artists Chris Drury, is organic in feel and spatially interesting.  Wood logs from trees that died from a bark beetle infestation are interspersed with coal in a commentary that is clearly environmental in nature.  The sculpture is visually appealing in a spiral vortex form within a grassy expanse of lawn.  The artist intended the piece to decompose naturally, but according to the article referenced above, it was removed due to complaints of donors associated with the energy industry.  There were threats from the legislature to cut the funding to the University unless the piece was removed.  Also, the Wyoming legislature passed a law that public art installations on the campus must be approved by the governor and the University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources Governing Board.

Take a look at the piece of art.  My guess is that if it were left alone, not much of an impact would be made beyond students thinking about the role of nature and energy in their lives.  The aggressive stance taken by donors, the Wyoming legislature, and the University of Wyoming is really stunning and ultimately harmful to the University.

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