Windows Project Artists Put Theory into Practice

When the award-winning renovation of Hinds Hall was completed in 2008, something remained unfinished. Six concrete window wells sat empty, save for the sun, leaves, and snow that filtered through the grates above.

The late Raymond von Dran, former dean of the School of Information Studies, had envisioned these blank portals filled with artwork. It was his successor, Dean Elizabeth Liddy G’77, G’88, who brought his vision to life with the Windows Project—a competition funded in part by unrestricted annual gifts to the iSchool Dean’s Fund.

Open to SU students, faculty, and staff, the Windows Project sought proposals for artwork that would raise awareness of the school’s accomplishments; explore the connections among information, technology, art, and design; and provide a commission opportunity for SU artists.

Response to the competition was overwhelming, with 34 proposals submitted. Of the 12 semifinalists who presented their ideas to the jury, eight were awarded commissions. The result is a series of eight original works—six in the window wells and two elsewhere in the building—in a range of media, including ceramics, fiber arts, metal, Plexiglas, and even video.

One of the artists selected was Thomas Day, at the time, a junior in the School of Architecture. His piece, titled Connectivity, consists of three interlocking Plexiglas towers that rise 12 feet from the base of the concrete windows and extend above ground level. Although the towers are three individual pieces, “the forms are built from interlocking strands that represent information,” Day explains.

Like many of the artists involved in the Windows Project, Day had a unique opportunity to put classroom learning into action. Although he used processes similar to those he developed in his studio classes, the chance to work within the constraints and challenges of a permanently installed project was enlightening. “It’s great that I’ve gotten this opportunity,” he concludes, “because I know now that I can do it.”