The Fort Lewis College campus is beautiful enough as it is, with sweeping views from its location on a mesa 300 feet above Durango of the La Plata Mountains, Animas River Valley, and the distant San Juan Mountains. But enhancing the campus’ natural scenery is an impressive inventory of public art installations, intentional works of creative and meaningful beauty by renowned artists. The more than two dozen works on display around campus range from paintings on canvas in academic halls, to bronze leaping deer hidden in copses of trees, to large locally sourced boulders that rotate on spindles when pushed. It’s often said that art is in the eye of the beholder. In no other context is this truer than in the world of public art. Good public artwork has the ability to reach many people in different ways, containing specific meanings for all, yet also broad enough for a personal interpretation by each. When you visit the FLC campus, be sure to take the time to stroll and view these works of art, both outdoors and inside buildings. As you do, compare and contrast your reactions. Works that on first glance may appear to represent one thing can, in fact, with time, inspire deep, unexpected thoughts and feelings. Which is exactly what a college campus should do.
The Greeters Located at the entrance to FLC are a trio of stone-and-bronze statues of Native American figures emerging from the rock slabs. One statue faces north, one south, and the third looks west, into campus. “The piece is a statement about Nature,” reflects artist Denny Haskew. “And I have always loved big pieces of sandstone standing on end, as columns, like you see in canyon country. The faces emerge out of the stone surfaces to show that all things, even humans, are related, and are to be treated as family.”
Geospinners A highlight of Sitter Family Hall’s courtyard are three boulders suspended atop rotating shafts that can be set in motion by passersby. The three stones of Vallecito conglomerate, each weighing between 6,500 and 8,000 pounds, were found by creator Zach Coffin near the New Mexico state line.
The River Potters Native American artist Doug Hyde was inspired to create these stone figures in front of John F. Reed Library by the lore he learned as a youth from his grandfather and other tribal elders. “My work is about combining the stone and the ideas—feeling what is hidden in the stone and releasing the energy within—to tell the Native American story,” he says.
The Intruder This bronze sculpture of a mountain lion by Ken Bunn, at the entrance to the Center of Southwest Studies, was cast at a foundry near Paonia, Colorado.
Reflection Installed on the side of the Community Concert Hall in 2016, Reflection “is inspired by the soft, colorful, and iconic landscapes surrounding Durango and Fort Lewis College,” says creator Volkan Alkanoglu. With hundreds of individual and unique aluminum components, this art piece appears to be constantly in motion and changing.
Two Stars Rising in the North Photographer and physician Chip Thomas was commissioned to create this commemorative photo mural for FLC’s inaugural Indigenous Peoples Day, in 2016. Two Stars Rising in the North depicts a moment in the life of J.C. Morningstar, a young girl living in the Navajo Nation. The photo mural is mounted on Mears Apartments.
Story written by: Fort Lewis College Photos Provided by: Fort Lewis College