Weight: 14,000 pounds. Height: 25 feet. 3 Cubes in a Seven Axis Relationship is a newly installed ‘kinetic sculpture’ twisting and turning in front of the G. G. Brown Building on North Campus. (Images: Joseph Xu. Text: Angela Wegrecki.)
A fine silhouette
When Vest was COE dean, he had an interest in establishing a collection of artwork on North Campus, says Alice Simsar, a fine art consultant who works with U-M. “That’s why this gift in his name is so fitting,” she says. An official dedication of the sculpture is planned in connection with the U-M mechanical engineering department’s 150-year celebration in 2018.
Imagination, meet Engineering
The Hayward Street entrance to the G.G. Brown Building is the perfect home for 3 Cubes, says Stewart. He hopes the work will inspire young engineers to think outside the box. With equal parts imagination and engineering, the possibilities are limitless.
“Sculpture in the built environment is incredibly important because everyone has their own relationship with it,” Stewart says. “I enjoy creating pieces that engage not just one type of person, but everyone. This sculpture will be something engineers can problem-solve and 3-year-olds will stare at in wonderment.”
Need a hand?
This isn’t the first time Stewart has been involved with a piece of art on U-M’s North Campus. He worked with fellow sculptor and mentor Kenneth Snelson on the fabrication of Indexer II, located on Bonisteel Road near the reflecting pool.
Back it up
“This sculpture draws on the work of David Smith and George Rickey,” says sculptor Stewart. “Smith explored the composition of simple geometric forms to imply motion. Rickey followed by introducing actual motion to the composition of simple geometric forms. I have attempted to take the trajectory of their explorations to the next level, employing 21st-century tools to the age-old process of sculpture.”
Space and time
Artist Philip Stewart and John Keedy, CoE facilities director, chat before the sculpture installation. Stewart took nearly two years to complete 3 Cubes. The sculpture endured extensive testing (even in winds up to 115 miles per hour) to make sure it could withstand the elements.
Pinwheel artist Philip Stewart designed 3 Cubes, commissioned by the U-M College of Engineering in honor of former dean Charles Vest, MSE ’64/PhD ’67. Vest also served as U-M provost and a professor of mechanical engineering. He passed away in 2013.