January 06, 2010

Artist to complete library sculpture Jan. 12-13

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is about to sprout literal and metaphorical wings and you can see it happen.

Sculpture artist Evan Lewis will complete the installation of his wind-powered kinetic piece “Wings of Knowledge” at the library Jan. 12-13. Then on Jan. 14, he will speak about this specially commissioned art in architecture piece and his other works.

The Lewis sculpture at Morris Library is actually two sculptures in one. There is an external wind-powered spinner of sorts hanging on the outside of the atrium at the north entrance of the building. When Lewis arrives, he’ll bring with him the interior component of the artwork. It’s a mobile featuring four interconnected elements, “winged” forms that, when connected by gears and shafts to the outdoor component, will each move independently, he said.

The 24-foot diameter external sculpture will move at varying speeds depending upon the wind, but due to the series of shafts and gears, the 16-foot diameter interior mobile will always move slowly, suspended in the atrium, high above library visitors.

The Capital Development Board of Illinois commissioned the stainless steel and aluminum sculpture as part of the $56.5 million renovation and addition project at Morris Library.

Lewis will speak about “Wings of Knowledge” and his other pieces during a free public lecture beginning at 10 a.m. on Jan. 14 in the library’s John C. Guyon Auditorium. Lewis, a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, has created outdoor kinetic wind-powered sculptures since 1984. Venues featuring his award-winning works include: Expo 88 in Australia; the Art District in Chattanooga, Tenn.; Sarasota, Fla,; Green Bay, Wis.; and even the Warner Bros. Studios movie “Twister.”

A California native, Lewis now resides in Chicago where he’s a furniture designer and kinetic sculpture builder. Since his kinetic sculptures are wind-powered, their motion is random and always changing.

Lewis said he finds the inspiration for his work “in everything.” He was one of several artists asked to design a piece and while the library project was still in its planning stages, he looked at Morris Library, pondered the buildings and project plans, and “tried to come up with something I think is very interesting and that people will want to look at.”