Did You Know That the Art on Campus...?

For many students at Santa Monica College the sculptures displayed around campus have become no more than background noise, as inconspicuous as the bench that lies along the pathways or the many trees that line the grounds.

Take for example the installation just northwest of the entrance of the Science building. Three polyhedra of orange, green and white obelisk stand stoically, scattered among the pathways and grass.

Created by former SMC student Carmelo Fiannaca using marble shards and pieces, these sculptures that represent the unity of arts and sciences were officially showcased during the Science Complex opening dedication ceremony in 1999, after the former building was damaged by the 1994 earthquake that hit Los Angeles.

Delving deeper into the Art Complex, other equally fascinating student work is displayed. Not a conventional sculpture of stone or granite, the water fountain in the middle of the Art Complex courtyard is in fact the work of an SMC art student.

Gene Farkas created the installation, also after the earthquake struck. The sculpture makes use of a section of an obelisk that stood as a memorial to the Japanese community here in Santa Monica.

The obelisk, which previously stood at the cemetery across the street from the main campus entrance, was damaged during the quake. What remained was then donated to the school where a water spout was crafted from the pieces and incorporated as a functioning part of the fountain.

Suspended over the fountain hangs a globe of copper pipes and a human figure of steel wire, a person in a great leap to catch the earth before it hits the ground, a creation of former student Kathleen Greer in 1996.

Sharing the same courtyard is an abstract sculpture of white Carrara marble. This particular piece features strong curving lines reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy brush strokes and was crafted by former SMC student Akira Kawanami.

The rare Italian Carrara marble was donated by a patron to the college sometime during 1994-1995 and was fashioned by cutting separate, shield-shaped curves from the blocks and then joining the pieces to create the shape we see today.

All the above-mentioned pieces were created by students in the Art Department's mentor program with Professor Donald Hartman as mentor.