The Observer

Surls celebrates the re-installation of “From the Center”

Rebecca Jones, Opinions Editor

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The artist discusses his other works.

The artist discusses his other works.

If you’ve visited the library in the last year, you have unmistakably been acquainted with the work of internationally renowned artist James Surls. His sweeping 17-foot sculpture “From the Center” occupies the south foyer of Abell, where its spiraling metal trunk and smooth wooden leaves are difficult to overlook. The artist visited the AC campus this week to celebrate the piece’s re-installation with a luncheon, lecture, and formal reception, enlightening students and fellow artists about the meaning of his work.

“I try to make my students understand that they are their center,” Surls said as he described “From the Center,” a psychological piece about human aspirations. The 1,200 lb wood and steel structure, donated in 1989, was originally an outdoor installation located north of Abell Library. Deterioration prompted Surls to refurbish the piece, a process completed in the summer of 2012, and return it to campus.

Surls’ strong interest in organic shapes and elements is a product of his childhood in East Texas where he was encouraged to use materials found in nature to create his works. The artist has since developed a fascination with the creation/fruition of a visual language. “Musicians have notes,” said Surls, “writers have letters,” why, he wonders, is there no recognized visual alphabet?

“It was kind of like sitting down with my uncle or granddad,” said Junior Sam Gamble, “He had a lot of interesting stories about making art and being an artist. I really enjoyed hearing him talk about his work and where his ideas and materials come from.” The self-proclaimed “Will Rogers of wood” will return to his Texas home this week.

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Surls celebrates the re-installation of “From the Center”