Pop-Up Art Installation Beautifies Campus

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Pop-Up Art Installation Beautifies Campus

Warshauer's pop-up art exhibit, located between Marcus White Hall and Ebenezer Bassett Hall.

Warshauer's pop-up art exhibit, located between Marcus White Hall and Ebenezer Bassett Hall.

Julia Conant

Warshauer's pop-up art exhibit, located between Marcus White Hall and Ebenezer Bassett Hall.

Julia Conant

Julia Conant

Warshauer's pop-up art exhibit, located between Marcus White Hall and Ebenezer Bassett Hall.

Julia Conant, Arts & Entertainment Editor

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If you’ve recently taken a stroll between Marcus White Hall and Ebenezer Bassett Hall, you may have seen a couch and chair with flowers growing from them and thought to yourself, “Huh?”

This pop-up art installation was done by History professor Matthew Warshauer, the man behind most of the beautification projects at Central Connecticut. Along with the couch and chair, there is also a bookshelf stocked full of books, a jar filled with goodies that are free to take, potted plants and pinch pots made by Warshauer’s daughter.

He and his daughter set up the art piece one afternoon earlier this year. Warshauer had seen a similar art installation somewhere else and figured it would be a cool conversation piece for campus.

“It’s just funky,” Warshauer said. “It’s just meant to make you stop for a second, take a moment out of your day when everybody is busy and rushing around and just sort of stop. If it gets a smile out of people, then its done its job. That’s what gardens and art are, I think, supposed to do.”

Warshauer said that the most interesting part of the art installation has been the public’s reaction to art in a public space. For example, the books on the bookshelf are there just to see what people will do with them. Some people simply look for a second and move on and some take books off the bookshelf.

“What is basically an art piece has also turned into a sociological piece,” Warshauer said. “There was Barack Obama’s book ‘The Audacity of Hope’ on the bookshelf. And I was driving across campus one day and I saw a woman walking with ‘The Audacity of Hope’ in her hands and I went ‘I bet she took that from the bookshelf!’ Sure enough, I came over and it was gone.”

Warshauer also said that certain books with political or controversial titles have either been flipped over so that no one can see the cover or simply disappeared from the bookshelf. This has also turned the art piece into an experiment in censorship.

As previously mentioned, Warshauer is responsible for several gardens and campus beautification projects.

One day he asked the Chief Administrative Officer, Richard Bachoo, what was going to be done with the space outside of Marcus White. Bachoo told Warshauer that there was money in the budget and asked Warshauer if he wanted to do something with the space. Working with contract landscapers on campus, they designed an entire garden in two weeks.

Every year after that, Bachoo asked Warshauer if he wanted to do another project on campus. Since then, Warshauer created the Hilltop Cafe garden, installed all of the hammocks on campus and even restored the Marcus White garden to what it used to look like, which hadn’t been done since the 1960’s.

“I think having a beautiful campus is incredibly important,” Warshauer said. “I think when the campus doesn’t look good, people who visit take that and think, “Well if the campus doesn’t look good, the programs must not be good. They must not care about the overall look of the university, so how much could they care about programs and students?’”

Overall Warshauer hopes that everyone on campus enjoys the beautification and appreciates the effort.