Improving the View
Private support helps restore a campus gem
On any given day, hundreds of people cross the quietly spectacular Isle of View, a tiny island in the campus pond just behind the Fine Arts Center. Linked by footbridges to the pond’s east and west shores, it’s a magnet for those needing a shortcut to their next class or appointment. The discerning few, however, linger awhile. They savor the island’s air of repose, its commanding view of the pond, and its status as an acclaimed work of art.
Despite its seeming organic inevitability, the Isle of View was created in 1981 by George Trakas, one of today’s leading creative shapers and re-workers of landscapes. His work has been displayed at New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the Hudson Valley’s Dia:Beacon, Minneapolis’s Walker Art Center, and other major institutions. Much of it integrates recycled local materials to both reaffirm and enhance a setting’s original character.
In making Isle of View, Trakas modeled and groomed an existing island, designed two bridges (one a 32-foot-long granite plank), and added a terrace by the water’s edge. “I wanted to create a journey, a mythic trip, a natural lifeline from one half of the campus to the other,” he explains. “The island itself becomes a podium, a sanctuary, a place of momentary exile.”
Over time, however, foot traffic and New England weather have taken their toll. Save Outdoor Sculpture, a joint project of American Heritage Preservation and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, listed the isle among important American artworks in need of repair. The campus responded by launching a fundraising campaign in 2006. It has attracted donations from a wide range of sources, including more than $25,000 from the Class of 2007’s Senior Campaign.
“Isle of View is a focal point,” says Loretta Yarlow, director of the University Gallery. “It’s a major work by a major, internationally acclaimed artist, at the heart of the campus.”