Standing: detail of figure on top of column with water falling from hands
- Creation Date
Smith's vision of the body as a fluid vehicle for intimating life - and death - suggested the School of Medicine as fertile territory for Standing, her Stuart Collection project. From the beginning her ideas evolved in relation to the site between the Medical Teaching Facility and the Basic Sciences Building amidst eucalyptus trees, sloping lawns and curving pathways. There is a sense of quiet intimacy that is activated by the flow of foot traffic between classes.
Smith's original idea of a figure on a classical column soon evolved to become a figure on a cast tree trunk. A dead tree was located on campus, removed and delicately cast at San Diego Pre-Cast Concrete. So refined is the casting that it has captured the network of beetle trails that once lay under the thin eucalyptus bark -- a feature that originally drew Smith's interest. The paths of these insects, which may have played a role in the tree's death, evoke notions of veins and capillaries; the trunk's artery-like roots reach into the water below. Stripped of its bark and exposed through time and decay, it is remarkable in the way that it calls out the live eucalyptus around the site, thus embracing - even composing - the entire area. Pathways were reconfigured and added by the artist to extend the arterial imagery.
Cast from a live model, Standing calls forth thoughts of human strength and frailty, and both the power and the limits of medicine. Serene and ageless, the figure atop the trunk is poised in a Madonna-like pose that is both vulnerable and generous. Ribbons of water - the source of life - flow from her hands in to the rock-lined pond below, introducing soothing, mellifluous sound.
"We always ask the artists to give a public talk at the time of the opening. Kiki's talk was held at the Basic Sciences Bldg lecture hall. It hold 350 people and was filled to capacity with some people sitting in the aisles. She talks in a kind of stream of consciousness way without notes. It's fascinating the way her mind works, but it kind of throws some people off, so it was amusing to overhear comments on the way out. Some loved it, older ones not so much.
"When we went out after the talk to the actual work, there were the first (that we know of) birds drinking out of Standing's hands. Thrilling for all to behold - especially Kiki. Hummingbirds and others continue this practice. There are a few gorgeous coral trees nearby and students have occasionally floated the brilliant large red blooms in the pond….a beautiful tribute.
"Some are confused by the little bronze starfish placed in the shape of the constellation Virgo on her bodice. It's hard to tell that they are starfish and they were kind of an after thought. Kiki had by now begun to think of more celestial happenings and wanted to connect her to the sky as well as the ground. Some say they look like nails - I say think of acupuncture which sometimes helps, think Christian iconography e.g. St. Sebastian with arrows in him, think of needles which can deliver both good and bad. This woman is both vulnerable and dignified. Medicine can help but not always. " Mary Beebe, Director of the Stuart Collection
- Physical Description
bronze figure with cast concrete column, rocks, and water; bronze figure: 4 feet 10 inches high; concrete tree: 12 feet 6 inches tall; pool: 13 feet in diameter
- Corporate Name
Medical Teaching Facility: University of California, San Diego; La Jolla, California, United States
Point: 32.875419, -117.235728
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- Digital Object Made Available By
Digital Library Development Program, UC San Diego, La Jolla, 92093-0175 (https://lib.ucsd.edu/digital-library)
Architecture and City Planning
Garden and Landscape
Sculpture and Installations
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- Rights Holder
- Cohen, Becky (American photographer, contemporary)
- Last Modified