‘Changing the World’ one fire at a time

“From the pyramids to the space shuttles, to the buildings we use every day, the science of engineering changes the world,” Patrick Garley, the artist behind UAA’s newest sculpture, in an interview with The People’s Paper, said.

“Changing the World” as viewed from the woods outside of the Engineering and Industry Building. Photo by Robert Gant.

“Changing the World” is a sculpture that’s difficult to miss by size alone. The sculpture is 41 feet tall and spans a concrete diameter of 30 feet. “Changing the World” is composed of stainless steel, acrylic and bronze materials. It was officially installed on Nov. 13, 2018, on UAA Drive across from the sky bridge. 

Garley explained in an interview with The People’s Paper that his goal was to create a sculpture that represented the evolution of the contributions engineers have offered to society in the past, present and future. 

“With the simplest of tools and their knowledge, engineers have changed the world,” Garley said. 

“Changing the World” depicts three once commonly used engineering instruments. The first is a slide rule, which was used for trigonometry and logarithms before calculators were widely available. Another is a bow compass, most often used for drafting distances on physical blueprints or maps. The last is a plumb bob, used in ancient times to ensure constructions were vertical. These tools are no longer used today and have been replaced by electronic equivalents. 

A close up view of the detail work by Partrick Garley on “Changing the World.” Photo by Robert Gant.

Garley was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He took his first sculpting class at Mesalands Community College and received an associate’s degree from New Mexico State University. In 2005, Garley opened his art studio in Palmer, Alaska. 

“[Garley’s] studio is always active with the sights and sounds associated with metal work,” Vote Local, an Alaska small business promotion directory, said on their website. 

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The 2016 Governor’s Award from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Alaska Humanities Forum was awarded to Garley for his influence across Alaska. Garley has many pieces in Alaskan locations including museums, schools and city public art installations. 

“[Garley] is unique in his metal work and is admired across the state,” Benjamin Brown, chairman of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, in an interview with The Frontiersman, said. 

Arctic Fires Bronze Sculptureworks, Garley’s studio, is named to celebrate his artistic process. 

“Using [fire] in such an intimate way makes you feel connected to each piece as it is cast,” Garley said on his official website. “Creating cast metal sculptures from start to finish is a long process that gives each piece time to evolve not only in form, but in the artist’s mind. In each phase of this evolution, the piece goes through a transformation, from clay or wax to metal through a process of fire, heat and hard work, to become something lasting and beautiful.”

“Changing the World” was funded by the 1% for the Arts program, a program that ensures 1% of all public construction budgets are spent on public art projects, as well as financial support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts. It was commissioned by UAA to celebrate the addition of the Engineering and Industry Building with an engineering-themed sculpture.

“I enjoy the hands-on feeling of using good tools, where the tool feels like a part of your body,” Garley said on his official website. 

“Changing the World” as viewed from the Engineering and Industry building window. Photo by Robert Gant.

The tools displayed in “Changing the World” may be too large to feel like a part of one’s body, but it may be viewed through the sky bridge in the Engineering and Industry Building. The sculpture is also visible in the nearby parking lot, road and woods but due to its height, it is advised to view it through the sky bridge.

Have you seen art at UAA you want to know more about? Contact Robert Gant at [email protected]

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