Spanish artist Jaume Plensa was sharing photos of his work on display around the world to an audience gathered in Emerson Auditorium to celebrate the installation of his sculpture Ainsa I at Olin, Oct. 1. From his towering video portraits that spew water on delighted visitors to Chicago’s Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, to large scale sculptures made in a variety of materials from stainless steel to stone and wood, Plensa’s work is elegant and mysterious from a distance like a Siren’s song. Up close, it invites dialogue and interaction. The artist even encourages people to get inside his art – literally- when they can. “I always say, ‘Don’t touch! Caress the sculpture!’ Plensa told the Olin audience.
He was on campus for the first time to see Ainsa I, located on Boles Plaza at the entrance to the Atrium. “I was really proud when I saw it today,” Plensa said. “Scale is the important thing and it fits here. The building is protecting my piece, wrapping its arms around it.”
The large-scale seated human figure made of a filigree of stainless steel letters from nine different alphabets represents the inaugural commission for Art on Campus, a percent-for-art program that establishes a significant presence for public art on the Danforth Campus.
The nine alphabets represent 70% of the languages spoken in the world.
The name of the work, Ainsa, comes a medieval town in the Argonese Pyrenees in Spain where the limestone base for the sculpture originated.
Photos: Jerry Naunheim
Jaume Plensa discusses his work and its message in this video. Videographer: Tucker Pierce, BFA’15.