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Albert Paley Sculpture Dedicated on University of Cincinnati Campus

“Progression” is inspired by a lithograph Paley created in 1999. The sculpture is a three-dimensional collage of geometric and organic forms that measures  approximately 9 feet, 4 inches tall by 44 feet, 4 inches wide.Six years ago, Albert Paley’s “Progression,” a 44-foot-wide landscape sculpture composed of carefully cut sheets of white-painted steel that deceptively look as light as paper, perched on a plot of grass across from New York City’s Seagram Building as part of an outdoor exhibition spanning 15 blocks along Park Avenue.
 
Now, Paley’s work has a new home, moving from Midtown Manhattan to a Midwestern campus to settle in front of the University of Cincinnati’s Health Sciences Building.

Paley, who creates work in his Rochester, New York, studio, is known internationally for his metalwork, sculptures, and large-scale commissions. A graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, Paley began his career as a goldsmith. He has completed projects for London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Cleveland Botanical Garden, and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In 2013, Paley completed 13 sculptures—including “Progression”—which were created specifically for his Paley on Park Avenue exhibition. The sculptures were installed in New York City between 52nd and 67th Streets and were on view from June 14 through Nov. 8, 2013.
 
During a dedication ceremony for “Progression” hosted at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Allied Health Sciences on Aug. 22, 2019, Paley shared that all his work is meant to add to viewers’ experiences and encourage discussion and examination of personal meaning. Whether displayed in a massive metropolis or on a medical campus, his sculptures should bring attention to a location and moment in time, he added.
 
“For me, art is basically founded in the aspect of humanism. Having pieces in a public arena, in an institution like this that engages education, is extremely important,” Paley said. “What people think and feel has to do with the experiences that they have, and art affords unique experiences to personalize those perceptions and understanding.”
 
This artistic intent, Paley said, isn’t so different than the overall college experience. Everyone comes with their own experiences and contexts that ultimately shape how one interprets new information, he explained.
 
“This is what education is about. You present something to somebody that they haven’t experienced before, and it changes their perception,” Paley said. “Each individual has his or her own interpretation based on their experience, and it varies greatly. It’s like a score of music. You are putting out an experience to somebody and they articulate it however they do.”
 
Situated on a verdant lawn at the intersection of several walking paths, “Progression” is hard to miss. With a maximum height of 9 feet 4 inches, its curved edges arc toward the sky, casting shadows on the denser overlapping elements closer to the base. Inspired by a lithograph created by Paley in 1999, the sculpture is a three-dimensional collage of geometric and organic forms that, although stationary, infers properties of motion and gesture through the artist’s use of positive and negative space.

The sculpture’s immediate visual impact is something that appealed to those at the University of Cincinnati charged with selecting the perfect piece to complement the newly finished Health Sciences Building, a four-story, 117,000-square-foot center that contains classrooms, labs, and offices. The building’s addition is part of the university’s “Medical Campus Master Plan Project,” according to a media release by the College of Allied Health Sciences.


Artist Albert Paley and Ohio Arts Council Board Chair Ginger Warner at the Aug. 16  Percent for Art dedication ceremony for Paley’s sculpture, “Progression.” Paley’s work is located on the lawn in front of the University of Cincinnati’s Health Sciences Building.“Progression” was commissioned through the Ohio Percent for Art program, which provides funds for works of art for new or renovated public buildings with appropriations of more than $4 million. The Percent for Art legislation, which became effective July 1, 1990, provides that 1 percent of the total appropriation is allocated for the acquisition, commissioning, and installation of artwork.

“‘Progression’ makes a great partner to the architecture around it,” said John K. Seibert, director of project management and interim associate vice president of the University of Cincinnati Planning + Design + Construction team. “Its scale and impact on the green space really enhances the experience.”
 
At the dedication ceremony, Ohio Arts Council Board Chair Ginger Warner reflected on the significance of the sculpture’s title as a promise to promote progress through innovation. It’s a timely topic that is currently at the forefront of a broader university mission to focus on the future, she said.
 
“Albert is known for the beauty of his work and, particularly, for his visual vocabulary. I think ‘Progression’ is very uniquely named. It fits in to the University of Cincinnati because for the next several years, we want to focus on the idea that ‘next lives here,’” said Warner, who also serves on the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees. “Congratulations to the University of Cincinnati for bringing about the acquisition and installation of this incredible piece, and congratulations to Albert for creating this magnificent work that will inspire students and faculty and visitors to our university for years to come.”
 
Concluding his presentation at the dedication ceremony, Paley stopped to stare at his sculpture sitting in its new surroundings while pondering a question suggested by an audience member: What message does he want students to take away from this piece?
 
“When you think about ‘Progression,’ besides the visual progression of form, there’s also the progression of perception. When you experience something, it defines who you are and your understanding, and then when we have other experiences, that changes,” he said. “What I think and feel does not make much of difference. So many people say, ‘What does this mean? What am I supposed to know from this?’ It should be the other way around. It should be, ‘What does it mean to you?’”
 
“Progression” is located in front of the Health Sciences Building, 3225 Eden Ave., on the University of Cincinnati campus.
 
Learn more about Paley and his work at albertpaley.com.

 

ABOUT THE OHIO ARTS COUNCIL
The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at oac.ohio.gov.

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Article by Amanda Etchison, Communications Strategist



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