Penn State “All-In”
Collaboration with Malcolm Cochran
A proposal for a public art installation that embodies and supports Penn State’s commitment to principles of diversity and inclusion through a straightforward, graphically compelling and engaging presence on the University campus. Our project is a collection of words spelled out in letters milled of solid white granite sited on panels of lawn between the walkways around Old Main. They will be viewed naturally from multiple directions as students, faculty, staff, and visitors traverse central campus. With capital letters 2′ tall x 1′ thick and lowercase elements 16″ tall, the text doubles as ad hoc seating. The words will be illuminated at night to glow softly above the ground plane.
Our concept makes text theoperating element. Words will be placed directly in a several areas rather than in a discrete location or plaza. Unbound, for example, by a paved plaza or a sculptural/architectural element on which text is carved or etched, these words are literally and figuratively grounded on the campus. As such, we see them taking their place along with the American Elms, the light standards, and the axial and curvilinear paths that crisscross the Old Main Lawn. They will be in your midst, a part of comings and goings. The words are at once “set in stone” and exist in the realm of ideas and thought. It is our hope that they will stimulate reflection and introspection and spur dialogues between individuals and groups: “Am IGenerous?” “How do Ithink about Becoming Myself” … about youBeing You?” “What does it mean to be Civil… to be Humble… to be Sincere?” In short, “How do Iinteract with and treat others â€”and ‘the other’?”
Our approach is deceptively simple. Working out practical considerations such as how to mount a lowercase letter “p” with a tail that would extend below the ground has made us think about the metaphorical implications of installing it horizontally rather than vertically: the letters ‘individual shapes on their own’ make up a word. The horizontal “p” can be understood as the character that most embodies differenceâ€”she, he, or they whose color, beliefs, physical limitations denote “outsider.”