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Magnified Perceptions: Sculpture at Menlo College

By SF/Arts Editors

Thirty Sculptors Provide the Antidote to Algorithms in Silicon Valley

On September 24, more than thirty large-scale outdoor sculptures will be visible for visitors at Menlo College in Atherton, for the second annual Silicon Valley Sculpture (SVS2021) fine art fair. 

This year's theme is “Shifting Perspectives.” Since last summer, sculptors from around the nation have attended to the theme with careful interpretation. Some sculptors felt grief, pain, and new perceptions. Other statements are light-hearted, playful, whimsical, playing with size and scope. 

In Silicon Valley, life is surrounded by technology, code and algorithms. It is not recognized for sculpture fairs. Algorithms narrow down life, and art expands what it means to be human. The antidote to algorithms made in Silicon Valley is showing three-dimensional art that sometimes defy gravity.

The artists have had sculptures displayed nationwide, from Burning Man to museums, public parks, and universities. 

Foon Sham, a Macau-born Chinese sculptor, and professor of Fine Arts at the University of Maryland, is the lead artist for the SVS. He interpreted the theme as a reflection of momentous times for humanity. "Metaphorically," he states, "it implies our current situation of the world, which is undergoing significant shifting from balance (symmetry) to an imbalance (asymmetrical) state due to the pandemic. The lower half of the sculpture is always symmetrical, and the upper half starts to shift asymmetrically based on the viewer's perspective." His sculptures can be found in the Smithsonian in Washington DC and worldwide. 

Image courtesy of the artist, Foon Sham.

Most artists come from California, but Antoinette Schultz drove her sculpture from Maine to Silicon Valley. She has been working during the centennial of women's suffrage in the United States with her own hands. 

Vanessa Murray, a student, pursuing her Bachelors in Arts at the University of Santa Cruz, is influenced by the street art genre and personalities such as the Ten Hundred, Slew, and DokeTV via YouTube. Her sculpture "Wave of Will" features rounded curves, geometric colored glass pieces, an elongated shape, and two different side mirrors. When looking at the piece, it may seem simple with its curves, but the perspective gets deeper when viewing the shapes. Each side is different with shapes and colors, forces the viewer to change perspective. Her focus is on bringing vivid colors into her art to bring an animated response between art and the viewer. 

"Art is there to make you feel better," believes Colorado artist Giuseppe Palumbo, "It is the duality communicated through his sculptures. Art is there to feel good in times of trouble, to distract from the hardships, the stressfulness of everyday life, not knowing what to encounter tomorrow when science seemed to have failed us. Palumbo's pieces probe timeless questions of humanity through a contemporary interpretation of myth, metaphor, and social commentary, and others are joyful, and humorous bringing much-needed relief. 

For Burning Man artist Nicki Adani, "Shifting Perspectives" represents our freedom to let a shift in our experience change our existence, just as the shift in our experience can change our perspective, from a limited view to a broader sense of possibilities." 

Sculptor Marc Foster offers reflection: "To make art that both sparks conversation and the imagination; I provide a visceral and visual platform for others to engage in their community and the context of their environment. This piece, "HOA," literally brings "Shifting Perspectives" to life in one's visual digestion of the mirror-polished stainless arch. At one point, there are double reverse reflections and a regular reflection of the environment and observer, momentarily and simply shifting the world about." 

At the last minute, artists changed their artist statement, which was anticipated, says Katharina Bernau, the founder and curator of SVS. Our perspectives will continue to change. It is a natural process of progression and reflection on what happened. The theme will be addressed in two panels on Saturday, September 24. "Imagining New Ways to Inhabit the Future" will be discussed with Northern Californian architects, landscapers, and designers. The second panel will be "A Moonshot Moment" - what do the artists teach us from the syndemic. How did they navigate through a period in which we faced an aggregation of multiple concurrent crises? 

Menlo College President Steve Weiner states, "SVS 2021 offers viewers the opportunity to refocus their attention on the works of creative and talented artists, displayed to great advantage on our beautiful campus. We are changing the whole campus, giving it a different look and the students an uncommon outlook. The theme for the exhibition, "Shifting Perspectives," speaks to the opportunity afforded to everyone. Students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike gain new perspectives of themselves, of others, and the world around them, as they step outside of their usual routine to enjoy the uniquely subjective experience that art imparts."

Sculptures are for sale. Tickets, times, panels, and event details are available at www.siliconvalleysculpture.com


Main image: Sculptor Marc Foster's "HOA". Courtesy Silicon V

alley Sculpture (SVS)


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