UAA | University Art Analysis – ‘Serac’: An engineered complexity

“I think art pieces like this liven up the campus and make it feel more welcoming and alive,” incoming freshman Miles Morgan said.

“Serac” by Larry Kirkland Photo by Robert Gant.

“Serac” is a hanging sculpture by internationally acclaimed artist Larry Kirkland. Kirkland’s expertise lies in making public art that connects to diverse backgrounds. He has designed art for countless facilities such as Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, Pennsylvania Station in New York and Putra World Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Serac” is visible on all levels of the common area in the Engineering and Computation Building at UAA. The sculpture is a dynamic art piece composed of intertwining cable and hollow plexiglass roots. It is valued at $30,000 and cost $2,035 to install in 1980, according to Wanda Seamster’s “The Art Of The University of Alaska Anchorage: An Inventory.”

“The patterns [in ‘Serac’] spark your interest and you just want to stare at it for a while to see every part of it,” UAA junior and bookstore employee Rhiannon Horton said. “Art makes the buildings look nicer and I think makes students, including myself, feel more comfortable hanging around campus to do homework, group projects and studying.”

Kirkland specializes in public art. According to Kirkland’s biography on his official website, “he has collaborated with community and business leaders and design professionals to conceive and create his large-scale, multi-dimensional public artworks.” Kirkland’s art is housed in a variety of facilities ranging from cruise ships to research facilities.

Junior art major Chance Evans perceived the expertise behind “Serac” the moment he first saw it.

“I think [‘Serac’] has a really interesting composition,” Evans said. “It isn’t too distracting and doesn’t make any statements that might make someone spend too much thought on it, which personally I think is the perfect choice for an educational university setting.”

“Serac” by Larry Kirkland Photo by Robert Gant.
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A serac is defined as “a pinnacle, sharp ridge or block of ice among the crevasses of a glacier” by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Serac” was designed with the College of Engineering specifically in mind.

“[‘Serac’] is meticulous and has many small parts,” Morgan said. “I think it has a lot in common with engineering. It has a lot of small parts coming together, and might not make sense to everyone, but definitely makes sense to the audience it was designed for.”

Art is subjective, and pleasing a large body of people can prove an insurmountable challenge to many. Artists can take heart in successes like “Serac.” Come see its complexity for yourself in the Engineering and Computation Building during its opening hours of 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

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