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Kent State’s Esplanade Path Features New Sculpture Walk

Posted Aug. 9, 2010

Four works of art will soon appear along Kent State University’s Esplanade, the pedestrian walkway through campus, as part of the Ohio Percent for Art Program. A 13-member committee that included staff members from Kent State’s Office of the University Architect, university employees, two members from the local art community and a regional member from the Cleveland area, along with the Ohio Arts Council, chose the artists from a pool of applicants, all of whom are artists from Ohio. The finalists were chosen after presenting their sculpture concept proposals.

Photo of Eye 2 Eye sculpture on Kent State's Sculpture WalkThe Ohio Percent for Art Program requires that 1 percent of state funds of $4 million or more for building or renovation be used for the commissioning or acquiring and installing art works. The law was established in 1990 by the Ohio Legislature, and it is administered by the Ohio Arts Council. Kent State’s project, the Sculpture Walk, was the idea of Tom Euclide, the university’s associate vice president for facilities planning and operations.

Beth Ruffing, Kent State’s assistant director of capital design and construction, said that these public art projects are important. “Art is a statement of our culture and the time, and it also enhances our environment,” Ruffing said.

The first artist chosen for the Sculpture Walk is Cleveland sculptor Giancarlo Calicchia. Born in Italy, Calicchia was formally trained in sculpture at Syracuse University, the University of Rome, the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome, and the Academy of Fine Arts in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. He has produced more than 2,000 works of art during his sculpting and painting career. His work for the Sculpture Walk, a carved granite boulder surrounded by other granite pieces, is located between Terrace Drive and Kent Hall. The piece, titled “Athleta,” is part of Calicchia’s series “The Witnesses.” The stones used in the piece were all created from boulders left behind after the glaciers retreated. Calicchia excavated the granite monoliths, some as deep as 12 feet, from his vineyard and surrounding farm in Lake County’s Madison Township area.

Calicchia’s work was installed on the Esplanade on July 27.

The second artist, Barry Gunderson of Gambier, Ohio, proposed a piece called “Eye to Eye.” Gunderson’s piece is a response to the human mind and how it works. It also is a tribute to the Department of Psychology. It is on the Esplanade near Kent Hall and Hilltop Drive. Gunderson is an art professor at Kenyon College, where he has worked since 1974. He teaches all of the sculpture courses in the college’s Department of Studio Art, from the introductory level "Three Dimensional Design" to the more unusual courses such as "Art with a Function" and "Art with Four Legs."

“Eye to Eye” was installed in early July.

The third artist is Susan Ewing of Oxford, Ohio. Her piece, titled “Starsphere 2010,” relates to the First Amendment of the Constitution and will be aptly located near the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the north end of Franklin Hall in the Esplanade Circle. Ewing is associate dean of the School of Fine Arts at Miami University, and she has received many honors. In 1995, Ewing was presented with the Ohio Craft Museum’s Lifetime Achievement Award. She also was honored twice at the White House in 1993 and 1994 by President and Mrs. Bill Clinton as one of 80 artists included in the first White House Collection of American Craft that showed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and other major venues.

Additionally, a work by Jarrett Hawkins of Deer Park, Ohio, near Cincinnati will be placed in Risman Plaza (the plaza in front of the Kent Student Center) once construction is complete. His abstract piece will be made of Corten steel. Hawkins is a sculptor who has completed a range of work that includes abstraction, figurative and functional (custom furniture) pieces. He is proficient in working with stone, metal, glass and wood, and he has worked in both public and private venues for more than 20 years.

The university is also working with the artists to schedule speaking engagements during the fall semester. These discussions will give them an opportunity to discuss their pieces, careers and past works with the university community.

The project goes hand-in-hand with another initiative that involves extending the Esplanade into downtown Kent. While the university and the city of Kent are still working out details of the extension, Ruffing feels the addition of the initial four pieces is a good step.

“Having so many large pieces come together at one point is a big entrance for Kent State on the public arts scene,” she said.

The city and community will be adding more art to the walk as Kent’s downtown development project continues. Several pieces have already been commissioned by Kent developer Ron Burbick for inclusion within Acorn Alley, a retail development in downtown Kent.

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Photo Caption:
One of the commissioned works of art for Kent State University’s new Sculpture Walk was installed near Kent Hall and Hilltop Drive. The piece, called "Eye to Eye,” is by artist Barry Gunderson of Gambier, Ohio.

Media Contact:
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595