New Sculpture Rises on Campus
Cal State East Bay dedicates soaring artwork to students
Reaching 17 feet above the university’s viewing platform overlooking the bay and reflecting the ever-changing sky above, a new Cal State East Bay sculpture pays homage to the efforts of all the university’s students, with particular tribute to those who are the first in their family to pursue a degree.
“Emergent Dimensions: We Will Soar” was created by Boston-based artist Obie Simonis and installed on campus in late June.
The sculpture, made entirely of stainless steel and set on a honed black granite podium, was privately funded and dedicated to the student body by President Leroy M. Morishita, a first-generation college graduate himself. It captures the eye of visitors to campus and abstractly speaks to light and soaring, as the location allows natural light to reflect off the sculpture, and the curved shapes at the top resemble birds in flight.
“This is for all pioneers, but especially for our first-generation students,” Morishita said. “We wanted something that represented both their incredible effort to pursue their dreams and their potential to soar.”
The curved lines of the wing-like shapes at the top of the sculpture appear to almost float at its uppermost points, contrasting sharply with the straight edges of the triangle on which they stand. It’s an effect Simonis calls “dualism” and is present in many of his pieces. The shiny steel surface of the sculpture also mirrors its surroundings, creating variations in its appearance depending on weather and time of day.
“The way it reflects the environment and changes with the day means it’s active with the setting and always different,” Simonis said.
Simonis’ work — predominantly freestanding stone and steel sculptures — has been exhibited throughout the United States and abroad, including in New York City, San Francisco, Singapore and Washington D.C.
He said when designing and building the piece, he was heavily influenced by his own experience as a first-generation student at the University of Oregon.
“Going to college opened up the world to me,” Simonis said. “I was raised by a single mother in Eastern Oregon and now I’m a professional artist with pieces around the world — pursuing an education helped me do that.”