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‘Geometries’ displays
public artwork
Posted Oct. 31, 2008
Christina Worley
In the Harris Art Gallery on Oct. 21, “Organic Geometries: The Public Art Projects of Phillip K. Smith III” opened with a reception for the artist. Smith won a commission for the installation of a large outdoor sculpture to be constructed near the Johnson Family Plaza, adjacent to the new Sara and Michael Abraham Campus Center. Jean Bjerke, vice president of university relations, along with La Verne residents Marvin and Marie Snell, enjoyed a conversation with Smith about the construction techniques.


The Harris Gallery and University of La Verne’s art department welcomed public artist Phillip K. Smith III at an Oct. 21 reception that opened his new exhibit, “Organic Geometries.”

Smith has been selected to design a public art project at ULV, which will be built in the Muriel Pollia Public Sculpture Garden.

The Murial Pollia Public Sculpture Garden will surround the Campus Center, which is projected to open June 2009.

Many faculty members of the art department are excited for Smith’s contribution to the University.

“I’m thrilled. This is a big public art process that will draw attention from all over Southern California,” Keith Lord, art department chairman, said. “This attention will be on La Verne’s art, commitment and appreciation.”

Al Clark, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, agrees with Lord.

“[Smith’s work] is beautiful,” Clark said. “This is our first real commitment to art in 119 years.”

Smith’s creation will be the first of many to come in the sculpture garden.

“The sculpture is a start of something great,” Lord said.

Independent curator Daniel Borelli described public art as “an intense series of social interactions where each group contributes their inputs and openly voices their concerns for consideration.”

Borelli also believes organic geometries to be opposites, but Smith creates beauty out of this anomaly.

Four displays, including photos, mock–ups, small models and chronologies of assembly of Smith’s art can be seen in the Harris Gallery on campus.

Palm Desert, Calif., is where a 15-foot high sculpture, called the “Infinity Column,” was built by Smith in 2007.

Smith’s “Infinity Column” is the second project for Art in Public Places.

Smith’s “Transformed Flower” alludes to positivity for Kansas City, Mo.

“Transformed Flower” represents not only a transformation for Smith but also hope.

Smith defines hope as “a desire for something to happen while expecting or being confident it will come true.”

A 14-foot high red and orange cube stands on its point in Palm Springs, Calif.

“The Cube” transforms and twists from a square into a circle into a tube.

Smith describes “Inhale/Exhale” as a “transformation from a triangle into a triangle into a triangle.”

Each of Smith’s projects brings color and zeal to its surroundings.

Smith’s creativity awakens emotion in viewers and admirers.

Transformation is a reoccurring theme throughout Smith’s creations.

Smith offers a definition of transformation alongside his “Transformed Flower.”

“Transformation is a change in form, structure, appearance or character. The word can imply a change of heart or a change of attitude.”

Burzeen Contractor, the head designer, is looking forward to working at the University of La Verne.

According to Contractor, their design for ULV will be built in sections.

It will also be fabricated off site, and its sections will be assembled at ULV.

Contractor works at Smith’s studio, The Art Office, in Indio, Calif.

Smith established the Art Office, a multidisciplinary design studio, in 2000.

Smith and his design crew “seek to inspire clients, fabricators, communities and themselves.”

The originators “believe that [their] desire to work within these varied disciplines is what keeps [them] on the cutting edge, fresh and exciting to work with.”

Victoria Farlow can be reached at victoria.farlow@laverne.edu.

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