The Story Behind the Sculptures at Upper Quad

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By Megan Acquavella
Staff Reporter

“Spannungsfeld” is the German name of the sculptures that can be found in front of the newest Sacred Heart University residence halls, Pier Giorgio Hall and Elie Wiesel Hall. The translation of the unique name is “tension field.”

The artist behind these sculptures is Julian Voss-Andreae from Portland, Ore. In a written description, Voss-Andreae said that his sculptural installation is inspired by a view of the human body through the lens of quantum physics.

The view “implies a dynamic and creative tension that permeates the universe,” said Dr. David Coppola, Senior Vice President of Administration and Planning at Sacred Heart.

Voss-Anreare’s description also stated that, “The German title of the sculptures is used in a metaphorical sense, often between polar opposites, such as a man and a woman. The figures represent nature’s omnipresent pairs of opposites.”

“Spannungsfeld” is made up of two 10’ (3 m) tall figures in a basic kneeling pose, a male and a female, facing each other.

The sculptures are constructed of parallel and equidistant sheets – “slices” of steel.

“The sculptures virtually disappear as the viewer moves past them, enticing the audience to interact playfully with these works,” said Voss-Andreae.   

“We chose their placement at the important gateway that connects the chapel and library, up the outdoor amphitheater to the upper quad to clearly send the message of welcome and invitation to all,” said Coppola.

Sophomore Chelsea Wallace said, “I think the sculptures are interesting and I think that it is a great idea putting them in front of a new building since a lot of people are excited to see the new residence halls.”

According to Coppola, the intent of the sculptures is to illustrate the themes of unity and wholeness.

“Sacred Heart’s emphasis on the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is celebrated in these sculptures that invite us to live fully our humanity and holiness, both immanence and transcendence, reflected in the Incarnation,” said Coppola.

“This invitation and interconnectedness of humanity with all life is expressed best in Genesis 1:27 – 28: ‘God created humankind in God’s image; male and female. God blessed them and said, ‘Be fertile; replenish the earth and be responsible for it,’ ” said Coppola.

“When I first saw them, I was a little confused about the sculptures. After seeing them I thought they were very interesting since you could see through them and were a nice addition to the Upper Quad,” said sophomore Danielle Calabrese.

“As quantum physics suggests, and both Eastern and Western wisdom traditions have stressed for centuries, the world is fundamentally one, and everything and everybody we see is but a manifestation of an underlying wholeness,” said Voss-Andreae.

Voss-Anreae compared the man and woman of the sculptures to the principle of yin and yang from Chinese philosophy: neither woman nor man can exist without the other, much like the positive and negative electric charge in physics.

“The sculptures are aesthetically pleasing overall and are a great addition to campus and our new residence halls,” said Wallace.

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