Press Release

Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin, Announces New Commission by Sarah Oppenheimer Opening this Fall

Event Date: 
13 May 2021
Austin, TX
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Landmarks announced today the commission of a major new work by Sarah Oppenheimer. The Artist creates precise forms that alter the built environment and shift our frames of spatial reference. The commission, titled C-010106, comprises a pair of dynamic aperturesinserted into a pedestrian footbridge. Glass volumes transect the bridge’s surface,creating new sightlines that generate unexpected social exchange, displace our experience of inside and out, and invert our sense of what is near and far. C-010106 will be unveiled this fall and was recently announced as the recipient of a $20,000 NEA grant.

This commission marks Oppenheimer’s first entirely outdoor public work and is among the artist’s largest to date. The work is sited on the footbridge connecting the Engineering Education and Research Center (EERC) to the new Gary L. Thomas Energy Engineering Building (GLT), both designed by Ennead Architects with Jacobs. C-010106 consists of a pair of voids bounded by four panes of glass: two sloped planes are sandwiched between two vertical sheets. By precisely orienting the glass through an incision in the bridge’s surface, the work produces intimate and unexpected views between the footbridge occupants and the pathway beneath. Reflected and refracted sightlines transform the inhabitants’ navigation of place, intermingling unexpected social encounters with a heightened awareness of the shared environment.

“We’re working with an inventor who questions everything,” said Landmarks Founding Director and Curator Andrée Bober. “Oppenheimer draws scientists and engineers into a journey that is driven by curiosity. I can’t think of a more apt place for this work than the center of innovation and discovery at the Cockrell School of Engineering.”

C-010106 is a catalyst: it reconfigures social patterns emerging within the flux of public place. I am eager to see the piece animated by intimate exchanges passing through and around its contours,” said Oppenheimer.

Landmarks is one of the foremost public art programs at an American university. It launched in 2008 with a long-term loan of 28 sculptures from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Displayed across UT Austin’s 433-acre campus are works by Beverly Pepper, Tony Smith, and Ursula von Rydingsvard, among others. Building upon this foundation and supported by a percent-for-art program, Landmarks has acquired or commissioned 18 works by artists including Michael Ray Charles, Ann Hamilton, José Parlá, Nancy Rubins, and James Turrell. The collection and related public programs expand opportunities for equitable engagement with art.

“Sarah has developed an extremely thoughtful concept that challenges our perceptions and uses materials in an innovative manner,” said Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School. “The fusion of art and engineering creates an exciting opportunity for our community, and I believe C-010106 will inspire future generations of Texas Engineering students to think creatively about technical challenges.” 

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