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Artist Creates Sculpture That Captures Essence of Students for the New Roe Green Center

Posted Sept. 27, 2010

The new Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance, set to open Nov. 6, will unite the divisions of Theatre and Dance under a single roof. And, a sculpture currently being assembled especially for the center embodies the essence of that unity.

RoeGreen leads
The artwork as it was being constructed

When students set foot in the lobby of the Roe Green Center, they will encounter 14 life-sized wall sculptures that fuse silhouettes of dancers and thousands of individual images from Kent State University's dance and theatre photo archives with a unique medium: sheets and large beads made of acrylic.

The artwork is made of water-jet cut acrylic sheets and various sizes of acrylic hemispheres with archival-quality photos adhered to the back of each. The acrylic hemispheres are permanently fused to the surface of the acrylic dancers showcasing a collage of Kent State University's student performances, activities and events throughout the past 10 years. Each silhouette is made up of approximately 1,300 individual acrylic hemispheres. The complete work will comprise approximately 18,000 of the unique acrylic disks.

The sculpture is now being installed in the lobby of the building.

This stunning, colorful sculpture titled light which can be heard the work of Olga Ziemska, a Cleveland artist, who was selected by a Kent State committee and the Ohio Arts Council after Ziemska proposed the idea of the sculpture for the Roe Green Center. Ziemska, whose work has been on exhibit nationally and internationally, has also seen her work reviewed in Sculpture magazine. Her grants and awards include a Fulbright Fellowship in 2002 and a Creative Workforce Fellowship in 2009, funded by Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

The new center is a $13 million; 70,000-square-foot facility uniting the school's divisions of Theatre and Dance under one roof for the first time since the two programs merged in 1994. The center will enable theatre and dance students to learn in state-of-the-art classrooms, studios and labs. It will also allow students from both programs to collaborate in new ways with a performance space that invites such creative projects.

The unity that the new center will instill is also what the sculpture represents as it mimics unity through the archived images that are fused together to create it.

Ziemska hosted an event on campus earlier this year so that students could have their bodies traced for possible inclusion in the finished piece and to involve the students in the artist's creative process.

"I really like the idea of bringing the body of the students into this piece. There's a certain level of pride and community involved in a public piece, and I wanted to include them in the essence, feeling and being of this piece," says Ziemska, who has spent nine months working on the artwork with the assistance of interns.

John Crawford, dean of the College of the Arts, says the work of art is something which will make students proud.

"Not only does the artwork enhance the lobby, it involved the community of students and faculty and staff to create some of the images used in the piece and it also depicted the history of school and thus it was a community engagement project," Crawford says.

Inspired by the northern lights, Ziemska says she intended to create an endless montage of student's performances and interaction with performances at Kent State infused with light and colors.

"It's how the light will hit it that makes it such a fluid piece; people will see all these color patterns and movement," she explains. "Each hemisphere has an individual memory within it. In the multitude of images, the students and alumni will be able to see themselves and remember those performances and those particular moments."

For more information about the Roe Green Center, including the grand opening festivities, visit .

For more information about artist Olga Ziemska, visit

By Erin C. Perkins