Waterfall sculpture splashes down in Price Science Commons

Waterfall sculpture

Over spring break, workers put the finishing touches on a permanent art installation in the Allan Price Science Commons and Research Library.

Commissioned by the Oregon Arts Commission Percent for Art program, which allocates funds for art in public spaces, the piece titled “1116 Pages” celebrates our pool of knowledge.

Comprising roughly two tons of aluminum and steel, the dynamic, waterfall-shaped installation spans two floors in the stairwell leading to the underground library. Affixed to the adjacent wood wall, the waterfall appears to cascade down a mountainside into a swirling eddy below.

“Our library is underground, so as you’re coming down the stairwell, the waterfall cascades into the pool below,” said Lara Nesselroad, manager of UO Science Libraries and the Marine Lab Library in Charleston. “It’s big; you can’t miss it.”

Adding to the realism of the piece are hand-blown glass orbs representing the bubbles that form at the surface and beneath the water.

“In nature if you look at a waterfall the water at the bottom of it is just this bubbling, roiling mess,” she said. “The bubbles underneath are bubbles that are making their way up to the surface in that storm of water.”

Upon closer inspection, more details begin to emerge. The installation is made up of hundreds of aluminum tiles containing lab notes, numbers and diagrams — 1,116 pages of them — contributions from students and faculty drawn from the library’s repository.

“The concept was about all these pages that you read and absorb, and you learn, and it becomes part of your pool of knowledge,” Nesselroad said.

Local artist Lee Imonen, MFA ’96 (sculpture), who teaches sculpture and drawing at Lane Community college, has completed numerous large-scale public installations, including a collaborative exhibit at the Portland airport. He began the process of creating the piece in his studio about six months ago, enlisting local artists to blow the glass bubbles and to help with building the actual piece.

Using a crane and a lot of helpers, it was brought into the library in pieces. Although the spout, the base and chunks of the pages were brought in pre-assembled, 50 or 60 sections of the tiles had to be laid out on the frame and riveted down by hand.

Complementing the newly installed piece is “Rise,” artwork located on the same wall at the top of the stairs that was commissioned by Susan Price, Allan Price’s widow, to honor him when the building was built five years ago.

“It’s really interesting and cool. It’s something that people may not understand what they’re looking at at first, but then walk below it and notice that it has a network of diagrams,” Nesselroad said. “I also hope the folks who contributed to the project will come over and find their work and be like, ‘Hey, that’s me.’”

A reception is planned for the fall, but UO staff and students with ID can enter the building and view the installation during working hours.

—By Sharleen Nelson, University Communications
Photographs by Nico Floresca, UO Libraries