University of Minnesota

Garden of Iron Mirrors

Andrea Stanislav

Andrea Stanislav (born 1968, Chicago, IL)

Garden of Iron Mirrors, 2007

Taconite and stainless steel

6 ft. h X 30 ft. w X 30 ft. w and 6 ft. h X 20 ft. w X 30 ft. w

Location: Outside the Education Sciences Building, east bank campus

Garden of Mirrors is a public artwork that suggests enlightenment and education by reflecting the man-made and natural world of its site. The focus of the work is to create an aesthetically informed place of educational discovery that highlights the intersection between art, science, and history to suggest that these practices are linked. The art work, due to its reflectivity; also becomes an abstract portrait of the site. The work is concerned with creating an experience of formal and natural beauty, which draws viewers in and leads them to ask their own questions. The work not only takes form as a sculpture but also creates a place in the landscape that becomes a place of destination, a place to think, a place of contemplation.

On discovery and participation — the viewers are invited to look into the reflective surfaces of the sculptures, to see themselves and to experience the way the light reflects and moves, to read, to write while seated on the sculptures. An investigation of the work and each of the elements reveals that there is a cast iron sculpture that is not immediately apparent because it mimics the taconite sculptures. If this piques the visitor’s curiosity regarding the origins of the artwork, they can discover the historical and the artistic timeline of this site. The sculpture engages in a silent dialogue, mediated by light and reflection, which serves to re-enforce the metaphors of discovery, enlightenment, and education. The viewers psychologically and physically becomes part of the artwork as they engage with it, creating a direct and intimate experience. The individual sculptures are created on a human scale, which encourages engagement with the sculptural forms that can lead to a contemplative experience of the artwork, the building and site, and all their manifold interrelationships and levels of meaning.

The individual elements of the sculptures are kind of a fantastic geode. Each taconite rock will be cut open and its cut surfaces then polished to an obsidian-like black Some rocks will have mirror polished stainless steel plates cut in perfect contour to the rock’s edge – an interface between the material’s interior worlds and the world of light. The artwork is also informed by Eastern aesthetics — Japanese and Chinese garden design, where all elements of a site relate to each other in a formal manner – creating a place of observation.

On light and reflection — the light that shines from the reflective surfaces of this public artwork is a metaphor for the enlightenment of education. The light “within” the artwork also speaks of time and movement, of history and geologic time. The appearance of the reflective surfaces will constantly be changing with the movement of the sun and sky, the weather, and with the changing of the seasons. The mirror surfaces will also at times appear to be “invisible” creating a simple illusion that the surroundings continue inside the sculptural forms.

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