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Oklahoma State University students to display public art on lawn of president's residence

Thursday, October 30, 2008

By Cori Urrutia
(Oct. 30, 2008, STILLWATER, Okla.) – The lawn of Willham House, home to Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, will undergo a transformation on Nov. 2 thanks to four students.
The project is part of a public art course taught by Sallie McCorkle, professor and head of the art department at OSU.
“It is tremendously important for students to get an opportunity to experiment as an extension of the classroom,” said McCorkle who has more than 16 years experience in teaching public art.
On the OSU campus, it’s a first. “The goal is to get people talking,” McCorkle said. “Art should be easily accessible to everyone.”
The assignment takes a unique approach. The participants are advanced architecture students who will design and build the lawn art.
“While the four students have created many architectural plans on their computers, none have ever created public art, which is a form of art that springs from sculpture,” McCorkle said.
Norman junior Michael Doerneman encouraged his classmates to enroll in McCorkle’s class, now in its second year at OSU.  “I knew it would give us an opportunity to try something we didn’t think about before,” he said.
Doerneman’s work will stretch 75 feet across the lawn and outline a shadow of the home during a certain time of day.  The long, slender wooden frame encompasses what reminds him most of Oklahoma – dirt.  “The bottom line is that dirt is an integral part of Oklahoma and it’s found everywhere,” said Doerneman who grew up in San Diego.
Ponca City senior Michael Sullivan will construct his exhibit from a type of bamboo native to Oklahoma.
Sullivan’s project represents four different concepts. “Our new university president brings a sense of intimacy and creates a celebratory time for OSU,” Sullivan said.  “I also wanted my piece to feel like it occupied the yard and engage the lawn directly, which I accomplished by twisting it up the tree.”
Claremore senior Ryan Vincent will erect a bright orange exhibit from plywood. The artwork, which is 6 feet high, will take more than 36 hours to complete.
“It starts with the square base and becomes more dynamic as you move up,” Vincent said.
“As you move around the piece, it becomes much more involved, which is comparable to OSU’s journey from an agriculture school to the prominent school it is today.”
Pryor senior Brian Letzig will cut thin plywood into 560 equilateral triangles and drill 3,360 holes in order to create his stitched piece.
“The piece can lie flat or morph into different shapes, but the triangles stay the same, which is the basic principal of OSU,” Letzig said.  “Public art is great because the artist has a vision or meaning for the piece, but the work is open to other interpretations at the same time.”
The project started in September and offers the students a chance to branch beyond an intense architectural program that involves up to eight years of training.
“The students are learning how to frame their ideas around all the limitations that come with placing art work in an outdoor public site as opposed to an indoor gallery,” said McCorkle.
The work will remain on exhibit through the end of December. To learn more about the OSU Department of Art visit

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