Public art on a university campus plays a significant role in creating an environment that supports the development of the mind and spirit of students, faculty, and staff. The University of Michigan has an historic and longstanding commitment to public art. The campus is full of icons that evoke the Michigan spirit, but none capture the vital importance of public art on campus like Mark di Suvero’s Orion.
Please join us on Wednesday, April 24 for an opportunity to hear from one of the greatest living sculptors and creators of public art.
Born in Shanghai, China, in 1933, di Suvero immigrated to the United States in 1941 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley. An internationally renowned sculptor and pioneer in the use of steel, he began showing his sculptures in the 1950s. Di Suvero is the sculptor of two iconic works on the U-M Ann Arbor campus: Shang, a kinetic sculpture that features a suspended platform that swings, and Orion, a brightly painted, orange-red sculpture made of hand-cut, painted steel. His architectural-scale sculptures have been exhibited in the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, Japan, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. di Suvero is the first living artist to exhibit in the Jardin des Tuileries and the Esplanade des Invalides in Paris and at Millennium Park in Chicago. His work is featured in more than 100 museums and public collections, including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. An activist for peace and social justice, di Suvero co-founded Park Place Gallery, an artists’ cooperative, in New York City in 1962. In 1977, he established the Athena Foundation to assist artists to fulfill their ambitions. He established Socrates Sculpture Park in 1986 at the site of a landfill in Queens, New York. Di Suvero has received several honors, including the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award from the International Sculpture Center and the National Medal of Arts.
Christina Olsen is the Director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art and Chair of the University of Michigan President's Advisory Committee on Public Art. Before coming to Michigan she served as the Class of 1956 Director at the Williams College Museum of Art. Olsen has more than 25 years of leadership experience in museums and foundations, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the J. Paul Getty Museum and Getty Foundation, and the Portland Art Museum. She is a national leader in debates about the changing role of campus art museums and their relationships with the public and campus, and has lectured frequently on the topic. Olsen has curated and produced many exhibitions and programs, including most recently Abstraction, Color, and Politics in the Early 1970s, currently on view at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art. Olsen is on the board of the Association of Art Museum Directors and has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Williams College. She received a BA in history of art, with honors, from the University of Chicago, and an MA and PhD in art history from the University of Pennsylvania.