New work of public art comes to Centre’s campus
June 30, 2011 By Elizabeth Trollinger
ripsaw cutting through wood. It now stands in front of Chowan.
Designed by UK sculpture professor Gary Bibbs, "The Rip" was
created to capture and honor the art and zen of woodworking.
Since the end of the school year and the beginning of summer, a new work of public art has found a home on Centre's campus.
“The Rip,” sculpted by Gary Bibbs, was donated to Centre by Duane van Horn ’68 and now stands in front of Chowan. Van Horn commissioned the stainless steel artwork, which depicts a ripsaw in motion, in 1994 to capture and honor the art and spirit of woodworking.
“As my company, Bluegrass Woodworking of Kentucky, grew to become a national and international player in the mid-nineties, I wanted to find a dynamic symbol that would represent the company to the marketplace,” says van Horn.
As design submissions for the sculpture came in, van Horn was not initially drawn to “The Rip”. “My first reaction to Gary's model was, ‘I don't like it.’ But the more I studied the entries, the more ‘The Rip’ seduced me with its boldness and static energy.”
Bibbs, who studied under internationally renowned sculptor Richard Hunt, is an associate professor of sculpture and art at the University of Kentucky. Many of his other pieces are also displayed prominently outdoors, including sculptures at the UK Kentucky Clinic and the Louisville Fire Department headquarters.
Centre president John Roush believes that “The Rip”’s current location in front of Chowan is an apt tribute to the kind of labor that was once prevalent in that area.
"The sculpture serves as a reminder that the west end of campus was previously an active, working warehouse district. Even more, it's a 'tip of the hat' to the lumberyard previously located directly across the street from where ‘The Rip’ now stands and adjacent to Centre's facilities management building that represents high-quality workmanship,” says President Roush. “We are grateful to Duane for combining his love of public art and Centre in such a creative way."
Van Horn believes that Centre is the perfect home for “The Rip” because it adds something unique to the fabric of the College.
“For me, art is a collective—a mosaic, if you will—with no one piece capturing it all. Centre is much the same,” van Horn says. “Centre certainly opened my eyes to the beauty, spirit and wonder of the world mosaic. I believe ‘The Rip’ can become a small snapshot in the vast collage that is Centre.”
Van Horn believes that the presence of “The Rip” on Centre’s campus will be a learning opportunity to everyone who sees it, much as it was for himself.
“One of my credos in life is, ‘May your vision always exceed your view.’ ‘The Rip’ inspired me daily to do just that,” he says. “My hope is that ‘The Rip’ will continue to do the same for all of us in the Centre community.”
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Forbes magazine ranks Centre 24th among all the nation's colleges and universities and has named Centre No. 1 among all institutions of higher education in the South for two years in a row. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, click here.