Totem Sculpture Erected at CMC

CMC's new 40-foot, white-painted, stainless steel sculpture.
Ellsworth Kelly’s 40-foot, white-painted, stainless steel sculpture newly erected on CMC’s campus. (Alexander Landau • The Student Life)

A 40-foot, stainless steel sculpture painted white and created by late artist Ellsworth Kelly was installed at Claremont McKenna College on Feb. 15.

The sculpture, donated by George Roberts CM ’66, is part of CMC’s initiative to bring more art to campus.

“President [Hiram] Chodosh’s administration has been really supportive of increasing the presence of art, notably in that we held an art summit with students last year to discuss the needs of CMC students for better access to art classes and an art space,” CMC Art Council Co-president Kris Brackmann CM ’17 wrote in an email to TSL.

“For many of the older alums, the Kelly totem is to be located near CMC ‘hallowed ground,’ in close proximity to site of the original Story House,” CMC Public Art Committee Chairman and trustee Christopher Walker CM ’69 wrote in a press release. “For current students and younger alumni, the Kelly totem could be taken as inspiration for setting a high bar for their personal achievements.”

The Kelly sculpture has been placed on the site of the Story House, the three-story mansion that constituted the CMC’s only permanent building on campus for the first year and a half. The Story House was later converted into a dormitory and dining commons before burning down and being renovated into the Facilities and Campus Services department.

“I think the statue looks out of place, and lacks artistic value and meaning despite the hefty price tag,” Dina Rosin CM’ 20 wrote in an email to TSL. While she is not a big fan of the statue aesthetically, Rosin commended CMC for taking efforts to expand public art on campus.

Brackmann also praised the encouragement of increased student involvement on art committees on campus.

“Students had never sat in on the [Public Art Committee] meetings before, which is an honor for us to be invited to hear their updates as well as give updates about what Art Council achieves on campus with direct effects on students,” she wrote.

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