Southern Oregon University artists inspired by location

More than 600 translucent paper leaves dangle from a tree outside the Southern Oregon University business building, one of 11 art exhibits scattered across campus as part of a class project.

Marlene Alt, who teaches Sculpture 391 at SOU, assigned her 11 students to choose a site on campus and create an art response to it.

"They are entering into a dialogue with the space and forms in that space," Alt said.

Students were free to use any material they chose.

"They get the experience of making public art," Alt said.

Kait Stupe, 25, an SOU senior, spent at least 10 hours cutting leaves from acetate (projection) paper, attaching them to a sisal rope and hanging them from a tree in a garden outside Central Hall. Stupe said she was inspired to do something whimsical and chandelier-like.

"It catches your eye, you see it and maybe it leaves you feeling a little more calm," she said.

Stupe said it was raining the day she hung the leaves and the wind blew many of her leaves into bunches.

"I was reliant on Mother Nature, who didn't really work for me," she said.

The leaves went unnoticed by several passing students, but Stupe didn't seem to mind. She said her art wasn't supposed to be "in your face," make a political statement or look like a Martha Stewart design.

A short distance from Stupe's cascading leaf display, Jon Owen, an SOU senior, chose to place three large wooden crates with the words "Exhibit Under Repair" stenciled on the side around SOU's stone sculpture, "The Third Eye Theater."

"It's more about the art and appropriating someone's art and making it yours," Owen said.

"Some people thought it was real and the sculpture was really under construction, and other people questioned whether it was OK to do that or not."

"I thought it was under construction," said Kylan Hener, an SOU senior passing by the crates.

Owen estimated he had spent close to 20 hours constructing the crates, which were about 30 inches wide and 70 inches tall.

"If you're going to make a statement like that, your craftsmanship's got to be good," Stupe said.

Another sculpture student, Colby Stephens, fashioned three large helicopter seeds from metal. The seeds are strung at different angles between three trees in front of the Schneider Museum of Art as if they were gently descending from one of the trees.

Other sculpture students tied leaves to a tree, drew chalk outlines, constructed an airplane with paper and wax and linked metal pieces together in response to a campus scene.

"It's a lot more fun to get the art outside where everybody can enjoy it than hanging in the art building," said Rachel Morey, an SOU sophomore.

The campus art will be displayed through Monday.

Reach intern Teresa Thomas at 776-4464 or at intern1@mailtribune.com.

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