posted on: Thursday February 15, 2018
by Catherine Goldberg ’20
Constructing monumental statues on college campuses has become a widespread tradition throughout the United States. They tend to take on a life of their own as they represent cherished traditions, school pride, and big accomplishments. These iconic features to liberal arts campuses are prevalent here in the city of Providence.
Brown University’s “Untitled Lamp/Bear” sculpture has become an iconic piece of art up on College Hill. Some of the Ivy League students love the big blue bear, while others are completely turned off by it, calling it distracting, untraditional, and stupid.
Urs Fischer is the artist behind Brown’s bear sculpture, which depicts a Bakelite desk lamp extending from the head of a teddy bear, symbolizing Brown University’s mascot, the Kodiak bear. It is meant to be both bold and humorous, bringing a sense of nostalgia, hard work, playfulness, and a larger-than-life presence to the school’s campus.
This past fall, Providence College added a new sculptural art piece to its campus. Located on Slavin Lawn, the sculpture of a torch symbolizes a beacon of light and truth. The the giant torch glows at the center of The Calabria Plaza for people to sit and observe.
“The construction of the torch and plaza during the centennial year marked the end of our first century and the beginning of new opportunities at Providence College,” said John Sweeney, the chief financial officer at the College, “It [serves] as a place to remember as well as inspire.” Surrounding the bench seating inside the plaza is a wall of black granite containing of the names of various inspirational Dominican saints, notable PC alumni, and important quotes.
The donation of the statue came from the Calabria family. Choosing the location of the statue was rather obvious, for Slavin Lawn has always been a popular space for public gatherings and student hang-outs. Now, with the addition of the torch, PC has a space to come together as a Friar Family and reflect upon the torch as a symbol of light and truth. The Calabrias hope that as students reflect on famous names and inspirational quotes inside the plaza, they will be inspired by grace to be the best that they can be.
If one were to compare the big blue bear statue at Brown with PC’s Calabria Plaza, one may note the immense differences between the two. However, both serve as important symbols of tradition and truth for their communities. While many students may find both sculptures to be ostentatious forms with no importance, others are touched by their symbolism and meaning for the campus.