The construction of UCR’s first art sculpture has officially been completed. The sculpture, titled “a circular sculpture about usefulness amongst other things,” was designed by San Diego-based artist Roy McMakin. 

The McMakin piece, which is composed of tall yellow poles that display the words “Things Change” and “Change Things,” is meant to highlight the use of multiple mediums in order to engage the campus community to interact with art culturally, physically and visually, according to Jason Espinoza, a project manager with the Office of Planning Design and Construction. The transformative reuse of landscape into an interactive art exhibit is an attempt to exemplify the university’s commitment to the city of Riverside’s concept of arts and innovation, said Espinoza. Espinoza also stated that UCR’s Department of Art had the intention to include artwork in front of the Arts Building. 

The installation was intended to capture a dynamic visual that interconnected the commuter and pedestrian campus experience. The intention of the piece was to enhance the students’ experience by exposing them to creative expressions of diverse perspectives. The goal was also to encourage the campus community to interact with public spaces uniquely.

According to Espinoza, the interest in this project sparked over 11 years ago with Jim Isermann, a UCR arts professor and sculptor. Isermann proposed the addition of this piece shortly after CHASS was built because he wanted to “create a place to stop on that throughway and to make sense of the chaotic walkways and mismatched concrete benches.”

Isuru Karunatillaka // HIGHLANDER

In 2008, the wheels of the project began to spin when Timothy White, UCR’s chancellor between 2008 to 2012, met with the Advisory Committee on Campus Art (ACCA) that was led by Isermann. Espinoza noted that during his time as UCR’s chancellor, White decided to invest in an artistic project that would enhance the “intellectual connectivity among a diverse academic community.” 

Espinoza explained that the funding for this project was established in 2009 and stood at $1 million but since then has escalated due to economic conditions. Still, the project’s team managed not to exceed the original budget and all costs were covered by the chancellor.

The Highlander interviewed Katie Cunha, a third-year media and culture studies. Cunha stated that she believed the piece was “ugly and confusing” and she wishes UCR would have used that funding to transform the “brown, old and dusty” building into something more “artsy.” She continued by saying she can see “arts students doing something better for free.”

Zaina Ali, a first-year art major stated in an interview with The Highlander, “In an institution where things never seem to change, or are not allowed to change at the hands of the students, the signs are ironic and feel more like a mockery of what we can’t do than a motivation on what we could do.”