Almost every day I’ve gone to campus I find myself walking passed a large sculpture near the University student Union (on the side with all the awkward heighted stairs leading to the Kin building). I would always look at it and have absolutely no idea what it was and I never found it to be very visually appealing. It just looked like three giant pieces of curved sheet metal. However, every day it caught my eye.
Upon further investigation, I discovered the name of this sculpture. Now by Piotr Kowalski. This sculpture was placed at CSULB in 1965, and the real wonder is how it was made. Kowalski was a Ukrainian sculptor highly interested in the formation of metal sculptures using machines. Now was created in possibly the most destructive way possible, with explosives. Kowalski contoured the three 25-foot-tall pieces of sheet steal by strapping explosives to them and lowering them in water and detonating the explosives. It’s a wonder there is even a sculpture left. However, his method yielded three beautifully contoured pieces of sheet steal which he then arranged to resemble the petals of a tulip. In addition to the creation of a work of art, the Long Beach International Sculpture Symposium, the North American Aviation Corporation, in El Toro, CA, adopted Kowalski’s method to aid their own experiments in forming metal sheets without dies, and the creation of Now provided vital data and information aiding their research.
I never would’ve thought that this sculpture resembled a tulip, but upon reading this the resemblance has been made much more clear (although I still find it abstract). To be honest, I always walked passed it thinking it was pretty ugly and just a couple pieces of weird looking metal. But researching how it was created in such a destructive fashion let me realize the beauty behind the sculpture. I found the comparison between the creation and the representation of the sculpture to be extremely interesting. Now was forged by destruction and explosives, yet it is arranged in a way to represent a delicate flower. What this could represent I’m not sure, but I like to think that it has something to do with the power that nature can hold, no matter how delicate it appears to be. At the very least, I’ll be able to walk passed it everyday and appreciate the artistry it took to create, and have a good story to tell.