Tom Nussbaum’s sculpture Building Up is an allegory of the faculty and students of TCNJ coming together to build the structure of a good education. The form reflects both the actual architecture of the new Education Building and that of an historic schoolhouse. Topped with a bell tower, the sculpture references the early American one-room schoolhouse and the history of education. Most of the design motifs are take from traditional American quilts, which have both strong visual appeal and are a metaphor for diverse communities coming together.
A selection committee composed of seventeen members, including faculty, staff, students, campus architect, gallery director, architect of record, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Board of Trustees, selected ten artists to receive the Request for Proposal.The committee established goals for the artwork that are specific to TCNJ and to the School of Education:
“While our college-student population and the faculty and staff who serve them will be the key users of the building, we do anticipate considerable and regular “guest” populations. These guests include school-aged children who come to visit our classrooms and clinics, state education and human services officials, and faculty from area schools and colleges. TCNJ is home to the only Teacher of Individuals who are Blind and Visually Impaired in New Jersey. As such we have a considerable number of visitors with visual impairments. We also have a greater number of individuals with physical, hearing, and intellectual disabilities visiting our school than other schools on campus.
We believe that this provides a challenge and an opportunity for an artwork(s) that can be experienced by this diverse population of students, faculty, staff and guests.”
The committee interviewed three artists and selected Tom Nussbaum’s work, Building Up. Tom Nussbaum is known for a variety of work including drawings, paper cuts, prints, sculpture, site-specific commissions, children’s books, and functional design objects. His sculpture and works on paper have been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States and Japan, most recently at the Nicolayson Museum of Art in Wyoming, and the Montclair Museum of Art in New Jersey.
“My goal is to create a visually compelling work of art that will be a beacon for the School of Education and is meaningful and accessible to its diverse population. Using visual, tactile, and sound elements in a sculpture that is inviting to the viewer, I hope to draw the audience into a physical and intellectual engagement with the artwork….The overall theme of the artwork is the allegory for the faculty and students of the College coming together to build the structure of a good education.” Tom Nussbaum
Building Up is currently in fabrication and is scheduled to be installed in late spring. The Committee recently took a field trip to ACS Waterjet and Squillace Steel to see the progress – see photos below. Due to the size of the aluminum panels, they were special ordered and shipped to ACS Water Jet in northern New Jersey. ACS Waterjet cuts the 1″ thick aluminum panels using a 60,000 psi waterjet. It takes 3 to 4 days to complete the cutting of each panel. Once the panels have been cut, they are sent to Squillace Steel, who is responsible for the shop drawings, polishing the aluminum and assembling the fittings. Squillace Steel will truck the panels to the anodizer and will install the sculpture on campus.