Sculptures that shape Shippensburg's campus


“Life Force” outside Memorial Auditorium

When walking through the Shippensburg University campus, one may not even notice the work into which some creative people put countless hours.

For example, who built the buildings we learn in or who decided to design the campus like it is?

Do you even notice the sculptures that you pass by on a daily basis, maybe once, twice or even five times a day? Have you noticed “Life Force,” “Touchstone” or “Open Book” on campus?

“Life Force” by Dan Kainz is the sculpture that stands between Shippen Hall, Huber Art Center and Shearer Hall.

It is a tall standing charcoal sculpture with a shiny, red linear glass in the middle of it. Just looking at it could make one think of a volcano because the top of the sculpture is left open to make one’s eyes continue northward like when a volcano erupts with its red lava at the top.

When touching “Life Force,” it has a rough, jagged feel to it like a stone or a rock. As one moves from the outer edge of “Life Force,” it becomes smoother until the middle is reached, which is where the red glass is placed to make the vision go upward.

When the sun shines directly at it, the red glass can sometimes turn to a light orange color, making it a wonderful scene to look at. It is placed perfectly in the middle at the top of a stairway, which may make one feel like he or she is climbing a great height.

Kainz is a sculptor from Allentown, Pa. Kainz uses rock or stone in most of his work.

He sometimes uses one to two stones based on what he is trying to accomplish. One can also see by the work he has done that he always has a certain focal area or emphasis he is trying to make.

In “Life Force,” his focal area is the middle with the red glass. Kainz’s works are very linear or vertical, making the viewer’s eye go upward and making one think that maybe his life has gone north since starting his career in sculpture.

The next two sculptures are made from a creative man named Steve Dolbin, an art professor at SU.

He has given many sculptures to SU. He also has a series that includes creative tools and an open book with an apple. His most compelling sculpture on campus is the “Touchstone.”

The “Touchstone” is a large stone that is located at the entrance of the football field where the SU football players enter. At the beginning of each game, the players come onto the field and they all touch the rock, which symbolizes unity and togetherness.

The stone has a large, gold Ship symbol in the middle of the stone , which can symbolize greatness. The gold and gray paint is used to withstand all weather conditions such as snow, wind, rain and hail. “Open Book” is also a very unique, but fitting, sculpture on Shippensburg’s campus, located in front of Grace B. Luhrs Elementary School.

The smooth, metal-plated book adds a safe and secure texture for kids to walk on, sit on, or even play on. The book is about five feet wide and knee level for easy access to the children who attend the elementary school.

Creativity and imagination come hand in hand. Do not assume things are there just because there is no place for them. Look into it and find a way to figure out why something is in the location it is in. In fact, find some time to look at these sculptures, they are there for a reason.

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