A completely uninformed tour of campus art

Journal staff attempt to decipher Kingston’s public art sculptures

Whether you’re just beginning your time at Queen’s or preparing to graduate, you’ve probably felt the collective sigh that’s our campus’ public art installations.

You don’t know what they mean and frankly, neither do we. However, next time you walk by, take a moment to admire these pieces scattered around Queen’s and the waterfront.

Ground Outline, 1978 — Peter Kolisnyk

 N: If I knew wearing a puka shell necklace and saying, “you know what deserves a frame around it? Life, man” would get me immortalized, I wouldn’t have waited until fourth year to drop out.

 J: I saw kids kicking soccer balls through this once, which makes for an interactive piece with real-world applications — like being misunderstood by your peers.

 C: I saw people handing out popcorn beside it one time and waited half an hour before I realized it was a sculpture and not a really extravagant fast-food stand.


 The Three Observed, 1992 — William Vazan

N: It’s like a really unambitious Stonehenge. Maybe future generations will wonder if aliens put these rocks here and gave up halfway through university too.

 J: At first glance, I thought those were snakes on those rocks. Is this a Biblical allegory for original sin? Are the rocks symbolic for the entrance to Eden, also known as The Agnes?

Then I looked again and thought, maybe they’re just confusing Druid crosses — the real question is what conspiracy theorist got to draw those squiggly lines on The Agnes.

 C: I honestly forget about these every year until the snow melts, and then I wonder why they sort of look like out-of-place nesting dolls you buy in the airport.

 Pyramidal Structure (Sakkarah), 1971 — Victor Tolgesy

N: When the orange isn’t burning my retinas, I kind of like this one. It’s a comforting sign that the two weeks you just spent navigating Mac-Corry are now over.

J: I think it’s a sundial. Nonetheless, I insist the hideous orange has a deep significance for the piece, otherwise my eyes have suffered for nothing on the daily.

C: If the colour weren’t so bad, the sculpture would be cool. I keep finding more circles and lines and triangles every time I walk by.


Time, 1973 —Kosso Eloul

N: It’s truly shocking a sculpture built between a smokestack and a water purification plant can still be the waterfront’s biggest eyesore — 10 out of 10 for chutzpah.

J: This famous waterfront piece is called “Time,” which gives me a better sense of it. One big rectangle is the past; the other is the future. The bench is the present, where the past and future meet but the sculpture never can.

 C: Everyone remembers their first time seeing these jutting rectangles.

Then came the endless Instagram pictures, the Snapchat filters, and I felt like I couldn’t escape it. But now “the rods,” as I call them, seem okay. I still don’t understand them, but isn’t life also a totally inscrutable mess anyway?


Pollution, 1973 — Yvon Cozic

N: Say what you want about it, this is the only piece on this list that lives up to its name. That’s a blight on the eyes you can count on.

 J: Okay, so I thought these were paint cans. Now I hear it’s about pollution, which ruins my grand theory of art representing itself. 

Also, all the times I sat on the yellow part and shouted at my roommate, “I’m swimming in mustard!” has changed from a light hearted memory to a constant reminder of pollution well into the future. 

 C: While I do applaud political art, this is just confusing. At first, I thought it was paint, and then it looked like ketchup and mustard on top of mayo. Like certain relatives, I’m not sure if “gross sandwich mess” is as deep as it was in the ‘70s.

 If anything, these pieces do draw us together as a campus, as we all try to draw some understanding and meaning from them.


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