CA - The hopes and aspirations of the rapidly growing University of
California, Merced campus will be captured metaphorically in a
major new piece of sculpture - a gift to the university - to be
erected in the central courtyard this academic year.
“Beginnings,” inspired by former Acting Chancellor Rod Park in
2006 and conceived by noted American sculptor Aris Demetrios, will
consist of two gently curving, vertical arms, each about 40 feet
high, rising from a large circular base. The enfolding arms are a
metaphor for the embrace of a caring university that values its
students and its community and the germination of a seed
representing the growth and ever-increasing potential of UC Merced.
This work is unique among university sculptures in that it says,
“this is what we are and what we do.”
The burnished stainless-steel sculpture will be located at the
open end of the quad in the academic core of campus, facing the
city of Merced. Demetrios, a renowned contemporary sculptor whose
large-scale works can be seen throughout the world, proposed the
design after visiting the campus and learning about its mission.
“The quad at UC Merced is an empty stage crying out to make a
statement,” Park said. “This empty stage presents a unique
opportunity to say metaphorically why the university is here and
what it hopes to accomplish. The UC Board of Regents envisioned
this campus as a seed that would grow, addressing the educational
and professional needs of the Central Valley and providing a
much-needed stimulus to the local economy. The design perfectly
captures the sense of birth, outreach, nurturing and contribution
that defines the university’s vital mission here in the Valley.”
Park and his wife, Cathy, are the primary donors and visionaries
for the project. In addition, generous donations by the Bob and
Marie Gallo family and John, Joseph and Fred T. Franzia of Bronco
Winery made the work possible. Demetrios also made significant
contributions to the project.
“The generosity and thoughtfulness represented by this gift are
truly extraordinary,” said Chancellor Steve Kang. “No message could
be more inspirational than the message of hope and giving that it
conveys. It will remind all of us for generations to come what a
major research university can and should do to help lift up a
region and create a brighter future for its people.”
The installation of the sculpture is expected to be completed in
spring 2009 so that it can serve as a centerpiece for the spring
commencement when about 400 students will be the first full senior
class to graduate from UC Merced since it opened in 2005.
The sculpture is being manufactured by Tim Billington of
Billington Welding & Manufacturing, Inc. of Modesto. Steve
Perkins of Perkins Design Associates provided the landscape
architectural services, and structural engineering services have
been provided by Mason Walters of Forell/Elsesser Engineers, Inc.
Demetrios lives in Solvang, Calif., and serves as
artist-in-residence at UC Santa Barbara.