Last Thursday, Queen’s kicked off Homecoming with the unveiling of a magnificent, 38-foot-tall installation that marries art and engineering in the Beamish-Munro foyer.
The grand sculpture entitled Synapse was unveiled on Oct. 13 in honour of Queen’s 175th anniversary. Synapse is composed of steel, wood, acrylic and paint — materials reflecting the Faculty of Engineering.
The tri-coloured piece is installed on a vertical axis, running up the foyer of Beamish-Munro. It’s absurd angles and garish colors give the piece a graffiti-esque feel.
The piece is set on a wall of the foyer, between two full length windows that on a sunny day cast cool shadows under the piece’s raised beams. The sharp, dark lines of shadows on the underside of the piece’s geometrical shapes give the installation the appearance that it’s split into multiple parts.
Arguably, the installation appears most striking on a darker, more typical, Kingston day, when the piece brightens up an otherwise grey space filled with tired engineering students.
Synapse was created by Toronto-based graffiti artist Kwest, who worked with a committee of students to create the piece. Committee members were selected based on an essay about engineering and creativity. The collaboration between Kwest and the students makes the piece more authentic, as it gave the artist more profound knowledge about the university.
Over the span of a few days, the students worked with Kwest exploring questions such as what has stayed constant in Queen’s Engineering? What does Queen’s Engineering mean today?
They attempted to answer these questions by visiting the Queen’s Archives to see what Queen’s Engineering looked like in the past. According to Max Lindley-Peart, who was involved in the project, they discussed the “spirit of collaboration, a real sense of pride, and ownership over the university where students are highly involved.”
In addition to understanding the legacy of engineering on campus, the students wanted the ILC’s installation to act in conversation with the other art on campus and not just as an independent piece.
It was with these principles in mind that the group sat down with Kwest and created some sketches. The use of materials was very important in creating the piece as the materials represented different Engineering disciplines. As well, the tri-colour paint is a show of Queen’s pride.
The beauty of the Synapse is undeniable. The electrifying piece is impossible to miss as you walk into Beamish-Munro, but beyond being beautiful, the piece serves a real purpose. According to Lindley-Peat the piece is a reminder to engineering students of the creativity involved in their discipline.
“It’s something that a lot of engineers don’t realize, it’s a profoundly creative profession, and this is an important reminder of that.”
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