Rowan is not known for having a particularly glamorous campus, instead selling itself in a dethatched architectural style reminiscent of, in my opinion, gentrified prisons or repurposed middle schools.
Rowan’s approach to public art is hardly any exception — haven’t we all stared blankly at Growth No. 50 outside of the Chamberlain Student Center in a state of blank disbelief? Haven’t we all wondered whether the giant owl statues will one day come to life, “Night at the Museum”-style, to wreck havoc on our ecosystem?
I mean, it can’t be just me.
Without further ado, here are my top five pieces of public art at Rowan University, ranked by how likely they are to invade my nightmares.
#5: History of Engineering, Larry Kirkland, 2002
Look, there’s just something uncanny about any piece of art that places a lightbulb, a screw, an anvil and a pencil all on the same scale. It is simply implausible. To this piece’s credit, it does not inspire the kinds of nightmares that involve violence or loss or real sadness. To this piece’s discredit, however, it does inspire the kinds of nightmares where your reality is disintegrating and you wake up needing to make sure that your house isn’t sinking into a black hole.
#4: Return to Grover’s Mill, Cork Marcheschi, 1994
This piece was apparently inspired by H. G. Well’s “War of the Worlds” and the giant alien machines that evaporated everyone (at least, that’s how it worked in the Tom Cruise movie). That should be enough to give anyone nightmares, but I feel like my nightmarish feelings are less related to the subject matter. Rather, the neon geometric shapes remind me of the interior design of a 1990s Taco Bell, back when the fast food chain served literal horse meat. That earns, at a minimum, a shudder.
#3: The Soul’s Dispensary, Livio Saganic, 1995
The first time I saw “The Souls Dispensary,” I got some Korean War Memorial vibes; the whole sculpture seems to exist to make you feel less happy. So while this sculpture is not nightmarish, per se, it certainly does not lend itself to fostering sweet dreams that aren’t about the Korean War.
#2: Knowledge is Power, Zenos Frudakis, 2014
“Knowledge is Power” is a really thought-provoking sculpture that makes the viewer consider the interactions between knowledge and their surrounding world, and is sure to inspire any future educator who walks into James Hall. It also features Albert Einstein stepping fully out of the pages of a book, which is a terrifying concept. Imagine seeing a picture of Einstein, and then suddenly he’s just chilling in your house with you as if he doesn’t belong at Princeton in the 1940s. If the “knowledge” in the sculpture’s title refers to the knowledge to astral-project into students’ nightmares, then this piece hits the nail on the head.
#1: Dreams Take Flight, David Boyer, 2015
This statue is somehow sentient, and we all know it but are too afraid to admit it out loud. If you have not been at least moderately terrified by these giant flying women outside of Holly Pointe Commons coming to life and dive-bombing you like kamikaze pilots, you are a stronger person than I. The name “Dreams Take Flight” is so nearly accurate, but it must be specified that those dreams are, in fact, nightmares.
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