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Art park to be built on Forbes

Bob Bingham, assistant head and professor of art, shares his plans. (credit: File Photo) Bob Bingham, assistant head and professor of art, shares his plans. (credit: File Photo) A new addition to campus, the art park on Forbes Avenue, will display student-created art. (credit: Stacey Chin/Layout Manager ) A new addition to campus, the art park on Forbes Avenue, will display student-created art. (credit: Stacey Chin/Layout Manager )

Public art is seemingly everywhere on Carnegie Mellon’s campus. Take a look at the iconic “Walking to the Sky,” a statue that has towered over the Cut in front of Warner Hall since May 2006, and surely one cannot forget the Kraus Campo that has adorned the roof of the Posner Center since 2004. Another outdoor sculpture, often referred to as the “Cheeto,” has been greeting students entering Wean Hall for years. These sculptures, now permanent additions to the Carnegie Mellon campus, are among the many art pieces donated by alumni that now occupy the university’s free spaces.

Soon, Carnegie Mellon students in Pittsburgh will gain a public art space unlike anything the campus has offered to date. The space, two lots at 4628 Forbes Ave., will be a venue for Carnegie Mellon student artists or performers to submit material for approval and exhibition. In contrast to the numerous permanent art pieces throughout campus, displays at the art park will be temporarily showcased on a weekly or biweekly rotation. The art park itself will also be temporary, expected to last three to five years until its land is developed further by Carnegie Mellon.

The park project was originally spearheaded by two staff members from Campus Design and Facility Development, Associate Vice Provost Ralph Horgan and Director of Design Bob Reppe. Horgan and Reppe then contacted Bob Bingham, associate head and professor in the School of Art. Horgan, Reppe, and Bingham collaborated with professional contractors and Carnegie Mellon students in Bingham’s EcoArt class to design the art park. According to Bingham, designers of the art park deliberately considered sustainable elements such as cob walls and a prominent rain garden.

Although core aspects of the park were completed in July, according to Bingham, there are still several features to come, including a kiosk with space designated for community bulletins and a plexiglas panel for the display of student artwork. Also planned are a set of spinning benches, similar to the ones beside the College of Fine Arts building, that will produce electricity to power feature lighting, and a space for film projection. Once these elements have been installed, Bingham hopes to see a master of arts management student appointed to review proposals from students.

“The vision is for small, temporary art gestures that change on a regular basis,” Bingham said.

Stephanie Ross, a sophomore art major, loves that any student is eligible to contribute to the art park. “It’s wonderful. It’s giving everyone the opportunity to create public work, and encouraging creative output.” As an avid performance artist, she is excited about the exposure that performance art classes could obtain on Forbes.
While the park currently occupies only the south side of Forbes, Bingham shared plans that the current site of the Carnegie Mellon CREATE Lab’s ChargeCar garage across the street will serve as an extension of the park.

Alison Vellas, a former student who helped to plan the “electric bench” project, said that the park serves Oakland as a reminder that “there is constant room for improvement in our community, and making it environmentally friendly would be a major next step.”