As it turns out, the silver sculpture outside of the FAB is not half of a spider, but rather “a figure interacting with two large rolling loops,” according to a new exhibit at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, which features the creator of the campus fixture, sculptor and K alumna Marcia Wood.
Sophomore Meredith Ashton, after attending the exhibit, has a new take on the piece.
“It is amazing that something I walk past every day is part of a greater historical movement and was created by a woman who contributed so much not only to the college, but to the Midwest with the beauty of her art.”
The collection, located in the special exhibition gallery and entitled “Scaled Up,” features models that Wood created as the prototypes for her larger sculptures. Constructed primarily from the 1980’s until her death in 2000, her pieces can be found both in and outside of buildings in the Midwest.
Following her graduation from K College in 1955 with a BA in art, Wood enrolled at Cranbrook Academy of Art, where she received an MFA in painting. She continued her studies at Harvard and then at the Courthauld Institute in London.
She returned to Kalamazoo to become a professor at K in 1965. An accomplished painter who exhibited for over ten years, it was not until 1972 that she fell in love with sculpture after enrolling in a two-week bronze-casting course.
Wood loved to sculpt because pieces could be both three dimensional and tactile, however the sharpness and unapproachability of sculptures popular at the time did not interest her.
Instead, she sought to create pieces that people could get close to and that could be enjoyed from different angles. Wood drew inspiration from natural and human forms, which is evident in the soft edges of her work, creating a fluidity not seen in the harsh, minimalist style of the era.
“Marcia’s creative presence at K College and in the Kalamazoo area spanned decades, and her contributions both as an academic and an artist are notable,” said Kathryn Baum, whose mother was Wood’s best friend during her college days at K.
Born from this innovation was “Prospect,” the stainless steel form that guards the FAB. Built in 1982, Wood hoped that it would be a piece with which students and visitors alike could interact, whether standing under, or just seeing it reflect the morning sun during a mad dash to Dow.