Sculpting the future

Capturing Ferris for the past, present, and future

Past: A sculpture is being installed to commemorate Ferris’ past, present, and future. Ferris welding students helped to develop the sculpture. Courtesy of Robert Barnum

Robert Barnum and other members of the Ferris State community created a sculpture that honors the past, present, and future of Ferris State University.

This year is Ferris’ 125th Anniversary. Robert Barnum, professor and resident artist for Ferris State University, was chosen to develop and create a monument of sorts to honor how far the university has come. Barnum said the project was originated by Bruce Dilg, professor at FSU, and work began on it in October.

“This was a very large piece that in some way had to speak for 125 years of history for a complex university,” said Barnum.

Barnum said the obstacle he needed to overcome was how to figure out a way to inspire a lot of people now and for years to come, and he enjoyed the challenge of doing that.

“The real substance of this piece is some attempt to make a statement visually that will speak not only for 125 years, but for the next 500 to 1,000 years,” said Barnum.

The sculpture consists of three pieces made of steel that are each over 20 feet tall. The pieces had to be built laying down, which complicated things when it came to putting it together.

Future: The sculpture hopes to express the power and high value of education and what it brings to the university and to society. Courtesy of Robert Barnum

When asked what he hoped the sculpture would convey, Barnum said, “We want to convey the power and strength that comes from education. Words and brief messages are engraved into the steel that define this university.”

Barnum said many welding engineering students were involved in helping with this project, including students Conrad Ruffilo and Patrick Damveld who served as project supervisors on the engineering end. Barnum said it was great being able to involve so many students in the process because they received hands on experience not normally given in a classroom.

Barnum believes that art is a critical part of a higher education environment and said it is his job to define the university in artistic terms.

“My job is to create challenging and meaningful fine art developments. It’s like being in a classroom without walls,” said Barnum. “These pieces of art will be here forever and I hope to create a continuous dialogue that won’t soon go away. This project is an example of that.”

Present: The sculpture was revealed on May 7 at 11 a.m. in Lot 2 behind the Swan Building. It will stay in this location temporarily. Courtesy of Robert Barnum

The sculpture was revealed on Friday, May 7 at 11 a.m. in Lot 2 behind the Swan Building on Ives Avenue. The sculpture resides on west campus at the intersection of Perry street and 215th Avenue.