A towering redwood sculpture on the OSU campus meant to spur thoughts on climate change
An 80-foot-tall sculpture of a giant sequoia takes up temporary residence on the Oregon State University campus in Corvallis.
It’s called “Emeritus” and is made of over 100,000 pieces of resin and reclaimed wood. It stands approximately 80 feet tall and is located inside a grove of living redwood trees in the quad at the heart of the OSU campus.
It’s the brainchild of Seattle-based artist John Grade, who says it’s meant to get people thinking about climate change and how people and ecosystems are adapting to it.
“Most of my work is placed in an interest in the natural world and how we think about the natural world, and how it changes and how we interact with it,” he said.
Grade visited the OSU campus earlier this year to determine possible locations for the sculpture. His reconnaissance mission did not last long.
“I was about to walk around the whole campus, and we started with this little grove of giant sequoias, and I just stopped there and said that’s absolutely the place,” did he declare. “So there was no need to look any further. I was so inspired by that.”
The sculpture was installed over nearly a week in early October.
“We had hundreds of people from the OSU community helping out,” mostly by putting together components of the sculpture on the floor, Grade said. A much smaller team of experienced climbers helped hang the sculpture from living trees in the grove, taking care not to damage them in the process.
Although “Emeritus” is located in an area of campus with a lot of foot traffic, it is not immediately visible to someone passing by.
“It’s in this grove, so it’s something you can easily walk through and not know it’s there,” Grade said. “So I like the idea that it’s something that you discover, you encounter, and you have that moment of discovery.”
In the evening, however, the sculpture takes on a completely different character.
“We have artificial lights shining on it, so it’s more like a beacon,” Grade said. “As you walk through the central quad of campus, you see light coming out of between the trees and it might pull you in. So it’s a very different experience (at night).”
The sculpture is also being used by OSU researchers to collect data on the ecology of the trees surrounding the artwork. “Emeritus” will stay in place for 14 months before being moved to a forest in Alaska.
Grade will be on campus at OSU on Friday, October 28 at 5:30 p.m. for a talk and artists reception. More information is available on the OSU website.