September 27, 2006
A Bridge Joining Science and Art
Lines of Sight Installation to Debut at New Life Sciences Building
Artist Diane Samuels’ two-story multilayered glass installation, Lines of Sight, adorns the elevated glass pedestrian bridge connecting sections of the new Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences. It is the first work commissioned under Brown University’s Percent-for-Art program, which designates a percentage of construction budgets for public art displays. An opening reception is planned for Oct. 5, 2006.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Public Art Committee of Brown University announces the completion of Lines of Sight by Diane Samuels in the new Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences. Lines of Sight is a complex and multilayered glass installation occupying 140 windows in the two-story pedestrian bridge that connects portions of the Frank Hall for Life Sciences.
An opening reception will be held on Oct. 5, 2006. The evening will begin with an artist’s talk at 5:30 p.m. in the lecture hall of the new life sciences building, followed by a reception. The Sidney E. Frank Hall for Life Sciences, which will be dedicated Oct. 6, is at 185 Meeting St., in Providence.
“Through both the form and content of her site-specific work, Samuels has created a metaphorical bridge, joining science to the arts,” said Public Art Committee member Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Gallery. “The glittering, prismatic effect seen from the exterior resolves into individual elements when viewed from the interior, revealing texts that make the connection among all forms of creative human endeavor.”
Each of the 140 windows that make up Lines of Sight is composed of hundreds of thousands of glass elements—made of slightly green-tinted glass or crystal-clear glass, tiny magnifying lenses, and small mirrors and prismatic beads—interspersed with about a half-million clear glass distillation beads. Small rectangles of glass, resembling microscope slides are hand-engraved with phrases of poetry or prose, the authors’ names, and their birth year. Finally, the outer layer of glass is sandblasted with the faint image of two hands, one on either side of the bridge.
“The handprint is subtle,” President Ruth J. Simmons has said. “The symbolism, however, is inescapable: An immense indelible imprint of the human hand on the advancement of science and knowledge.”
The texts included on the bridge – on the topics of “observing the world, discovery, perception, and looking closely” – were submitted by members of the Brown University community at Samuels’ request. Samuels chose nearly 700 texts by historic and contemporary writers and scientists, both well known and unknown. An interactive kiosk near the work includes an archive containing the names of contributors, the complete text from which each quotation is taken, the author’s name and birth year, and the location of the text within the windows.
Members of the Brown Community also contributed to the work by offering their hands for scanning. Two of the more than seventy-seven scans, made by Samuels over a two-day period in December of 2004, are used for the delicately etched handprints on the exterior layer of the glass.
As initial research for this project, Samuels visited two life science research laboratories. The scientists spoke about the necessity of looking closely, of penetrating layers, of trying to find the smallest element and understanding it as part of a larger organism. As a visual artist, Samuels has many of the same concerns: looking closely, paying attention, finding surprises, then following the unexpected to go deeper. In the artist’s words, “both scientists and artists understand that the more we look, the more layers and interconnections are revealed among the layers.”
Lines of Sight is the first work commissioned under Brown’s Percent-for-Art program, which reserves a portion of new construction budgets for public art displays. The program is organized by the Public Art Committee and chaired by Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky.
Carolyn B. Greenspan ’82 and her husband Marshall S. Ruben funded construction of the bridge and the installation of Lines of Sight. The structure will be formally named the Greenspan/Ruben Tower Bridge during building dedication ceremonies on Friday, Oct. 6.
Diane Samuels has exhibited widely nationally and internationally. Represented by the Kim Foster Gallery in New York, Samuels’ work is in private and public collections, and has been featured in many publications. In 2002, Samuels won an international competition for the permanent artwork at the Center for Jewish History in New York and completed the work in 2004. It was awarded an IFRAA/Faith and Form Award for Religious Art and Architecture in 2005.
Samuels has also shown and worked extensively in Europe, including Germany, France, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia. In 1998, she built a commissioned memorial garden in Grafeneck, Germany – site “A” of the so-called euthanasia experiments in 1940. In 2002, she finished a six-year project working with history and current issues in Buttenhausen, Germany, which culminated in a book documenting the performances and pieces that were part of the project (Imprints and Artifacts/Prägungen und Werkstücke).
A long-time Pittsburgh resident, Samuels holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in fine arts from Carnegie Mellon University.