The University of Texas’ public art collection and program, Landmarks, has announced that it has commissioned artist Sarah Oppenheimer for a public work of art — one of the artists’s largest to date, and the first by Oppenheimer to be set entirely outdoors.
C-010106 is the title of the work to be unveiled at UT in the fall of 2021, and it will include apertures in a pedestrian footbridge connecting the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC) to the new Gary L. Thomas Energy Engineering Building (GLT), both designed by Ennead Architects. Landmarks describes the work as follows: “C-010106 consists of a pair of voids bounded by four panes of glass: two sloped planes are sandwiched between two vertical sheets. Glass volumes transect the bridge’s surface, creating new sightlines that generate unexpected social exchange, displace our experience of inside and out, and invert our sense of what is near and far.” The project has received a $20,000 NEA grant.
“We’re working with an inventor who questions everything,” states Landmarks Founding Director and Curator Andrée Bober. “Oppenheimer draws scientists and engineers into a journey that is driven by curiosity. I can’t think of a more apt place for this work than the center of innovation and discovery at the Cockrell School of Engineering.”
Says Oppenheimer: “C-010106 is a catalyst: it reconfigures social patterns emerging within the flux of public place. I am eager to see the piece animated by intimate exchanges passing through and around its contours.”
Last month, Landmarks acquired Sentinel IV, a sculpture by New-York based artist Simone Leigh, its first purchase of work by a Black woman. Landmarks previously commissioned artist Jennifer Steinkamp’s Eon, a 30 x 9-foot digital installation in UT Austin’s Welch Hall, a building that’s part of the College of Natural Sciences, and the largest academic building on the campus.
“Sarah has developed an extremely thoughtful concept that challenges our perceptions and uses materials in an innovative manner,” says Sharon L. Wood, Dean of the Cockrell School. “The fusion of art and engineering creates an exciting opportunity for our community, and I believe C-010106 will inspire future generations of Texas Engineering students to think creatively about technical challenges.”
Landmarks is one of the foremost public art programs at an American university. It launched in 2008 with a long-term loan of 28 sculptures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Displayed across UT Austin’s 433-acre campus are works by Beverly Pepper, Tony Smith, and Ursula von Rydingsvard, among others. Building upon this foundation and supported by a percent-for-art program, Landmarks has acquired or commissioned 18 works by artists including Michael Ray Charles, Ann Hamilton, José Parlá, Nancy Rubins, and James Turrell. The collection and related public programs expand opportunities for equitable engagement with art.