What’s The Deal With…The Sculpture Behind Post Hall?

Behind Post Hall is a pile of rusty, reddish brown scrap metal. But the flat, angular metal pieces of abstract art represent the mountains and majestic landscape of its namesake, a rural Vermont town called Pownal.

The piece, created by an artist named Isaac Witkin in 1975, was donated to the University anonymously in 2008.

The intent was to expose the sculpture to a larger audience via foot traffic on the campus, as opposed to keeping it inside a gallery, said Olivia Kohler, assistant director of the University Art Galleries.

Kohler pointed out that steel is not typically a medium artists use to represent nature. She called the piece graceful and raw.

“With the different sides of the sculpture, you have a mountain landscape that kind of goes on,” she said. “You have a different view of the mountain as you are going around the piece.”

Witkin became good friends with Jules Olitski, an artist who has been featured in the Luther W. Brady Art Gallery, while working in Vermont, Kohler said. Olitski passed away in 2007, but his work has been an important staple to the gallery. The link between Olitski and Witkin added to the motivation behind featuring “Pownal” on the Mount Vernon Campus.

Former President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg was a strong advocate of placing more artwork on campus.

“Pownal” is the second sculpture to be installed on the Vern, part of an ongoing process of introducing new works on campus. Last year, a large metal squirrel titled “Professor Who” was placed outside Cole Hall.

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