Arts@Tech Brings 'Engineered Art' to Campus

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Victor Rogers
Institute Communications

Last week, the three final works of the 15-piece outdoor sculptures exhibit, "Engineered Art," were installed on the Georgia Tech campus.

Internationally acclaimed, Chattanooga-based sculptor John Henry is the curator for the exhibition. His work, “La Tour,” the 50-foot tall steel piece located on the Instructional Center lawn near Boggs Chemistry Building, is also included in the exhibit.  

The Whistle recently spoke with Henry  about his approach to sculpting.  

Here are his thoughts:

“My general philosophy about sculpture is, in the words of Herman Rusch who was a naïve sculptor from northern Wisconsin, ‘I just like to make things. I’m a builder.’ And that’s really what I am… a builder.

I came from a line of builders. I had a great uncle who went around the country building barns for people. My grandfather built things and tilled the soil. My father built homes and developed land, and he also made furniture.

Then I came along and upset the apple cart a little bit because nothing I make anybody really needs! There’s a whole different philosophy about that because some people think they need it a lot. I’m very thankful for those people.

Sculpture is about building things for the environment in which you live. I think sculptors need to understand their environment. They need to understand the society in which they live.

It’s important that I make things that have a certain connection with architecture and the man-made environment we live in, like this campus, which is a very good example.

I’m not too interested in what is called ‘site-specific sculpture’ because sites change. You can [create] something incredibly specific for a specific place. Chances are, 20 years from now, that site will change. It will have a different use. And, if your piece is too specific, it doesn’t mean anything anymore.  

I think it’s very important to make things that can change with time, can have new meanings, and can take on other meanings that you haven’t even thought about now. That’s my philosophy about sculpture.”

“Engineered Art” is part of Arts@Tech, an initiative to enhance the Tech community by fostering programs and events spanning the arts spectrum at the intersection of technological innovation and creative expression. Arts@Tech is an outcome of the Institute’s strategic plan.