One of the most striking things about the new Life Sciences Building at Utah State University is an art installation created by Atlanta-based artist Amy Landesberg. The piece extends between the first and second floor with giant blue glass “waterdrops” reminiscent of a climbing wall.
“I didn’t want to create merely a representation of water,” Landesberg said Friday evening in the Life Sciences Building. “I sought interaction. Something people can experience.”
Celebrating the new building, Conversations with the Artists brought Landesberg and Arizona professor Mark Pomilio to speak about their contribution to the aesthetic of the building.
“The design idea was to create it almost like an organism with that kind of interaction between the parts and the whole, and it made perfect sense with the way I create my pieces,” Pomilio said about his piece, “Symbols and Symmetries.”
Pomilio’s piece and Landesberg’s, titled “Surface Tension,” are just two of the unique aspects of the building.
The new facility benefits students of more than 30 majors and provides space for foundational biology classrooms. It replaced the Peterson Agricultural Building, which was demolished in 2012.
Jim Glenn, manager of acquisitions with the Utah Division of Arts and Museums Public Art Program, said that 1% of all new state buildings must be allocated to public artworks, including campuses, community centers and parks.
That 1% is required by the Utah Percent-for-Art Act, and the cost of building construction is what funded Landesberg and Pomilio’s work.
“Every project is selected by a committee,” Glenn said. “Nine people from USU were on this committee and chose the artists after looking at thousands of images from possible choices.”
Glenn said it was an honor to work with the artists at USU.
“Mark and Amy’s commitment to their work and their ingenuity is awe-inspiring,” Glenn said. “I’ve done this for so many years but artists like this make my job amazing.”
Two other local artists, Jerry Fuhriman and Woody Shepherd, who both specialize in landscape paintings, worked on the interior of the building as well.
“I like to look at my work as an escape,” Shepherd said. “I want people to look at it and get lost in it.”
The artwork in the Life Sciences Building joins other notable art installments on campus, including James Russell’s Sojourn, Joseph Kinnebrew’s SNAFU and the Block A on the Quad.
“It’s nice to have some concrete finance for us artists,” Pomilio joked. “As an artist I try to challenge myself but usually the checks are unexpected.”