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Bronze and Beautiful

The average wolf is about three feet tall and maybe 80 pounds – a munchkin compared to the wolves that will be installed on the plaza west of the bookstore beginning today.

San Diego-based artist Michael Stutz created the “woven bronze” wolves that weigh in at approximately 1,200 pounds and stand about five feet tall. The sculptures are part of a continuing campus beautification project helped along by the bond referendum of 2000 that allowed NC State to address facility construction and renovation across campus.

“Now we have an opportunity to turn our attention to the spaces between buildings,” said Tom Skolnicki, university landscape architect. “If you look across our campus, there are some iconic places, like the Belltower, the Brickyard and Holladay Hall. As part of the physical master plan, we’re trying to create additional (iconic places) as well as improve the areas that have high visibility and high pedestrian traffic.”

The area where the wolves will be installed is at the south end of the Free Expression Tunnel, just a few feet from the Talley Student Center, the bookstore and several residence halls. The project, commissioned in 2008, was funded from non-appropriated, non-student-fee dollars.

Stutz will present a lecture on the creation of the sculptures at 1:30 p.m. Monday, March 8, in Burns Auditorium in Kamphoefner Hall. A formal installation event and unveiling is planned at the site of the sculptures on Tuesday, March 9, at 2 p.m.

Stutz, whose art uses straps of material to create form, said he hoped to evoke “order and abstraction,” with his trio of wolves.

“When you look at the site, you see a traditional, ordered space,” he said. “You see a space where students in a literal way are moving toward their goal. They may not be completely sure of the exact nature of that goal yet, but they’re moving. It’s that moving forward idea that evokes the nature and powerful wildness you find in wolves that I was aiming for.”

Stutz said he spent “quite a bit” of time watching how the space is used before deciding on the nature and scale of the sculptures. “Students were skateboarding, playing games, studying, moving back and forth. It’s a space that is well-used and I did not want the sculptures to encroach too much on the way the space is utilized.”

Stutz, originally from Tennessee, was chosen in a process that began two years ago when 66 artists responded to requests for qualifications. A committee made up of seven faculty and staff narrowed the list to four artists who visited campus and met with faculty, staff and students.

You can see an example of Stutz’ work on a pedestrian bridge over Highway 1 in Cary.

Skolnicki said the wolves are among several ongoing projects that will continue into the summer. Here’s the list:

  • Watauga Club Gateway. Watauga Club Drive is officially closed to through traffic – no more cutting through from Pullen to Hillsborough. The roughly 30 yards of pavement has been turned into a grassy area that connects the Belltower lawn with Primrose Hall. A gateway consisting of brick and metal will mark an entrance to campus.
  • Achievement Drive Gateway. Similar to the Watauga Gateway, the new construction at Achievement Drive and Centennial Parkway will welcome visitors entering Centennial Campus.
  • Court of North Carolina Steps and Outdoor Classroom. Renovations to the 1911 Building were designed to allow pedestrian traffic to flow easily through the building. New steps will allow pedestrians to proceed immediately to the Court of North Carolina, rather than veering right or left to the sidewalks on either side. The new steps also will frame the view of the 1911 Building looking from the direction of Leazar Hall. A second outdoor classroom also will be added (the first is near the center of the Court, on the north side).
  • Chamberlain Drive Pedestrian Improvements (under design). The portion of Chamberlain Drive that runs north of Withers Hall will be closed to regular vehicle traffic, accommodating pedestrian traffic moving on this all-campus path from the Brickyard to the Court of North Carolina.

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