Science Museum Oklahoma to dedicate outdoor sculpture
John Kirkpatrick was an admiral, an oilman, and a philanthropist.
As his grandson remembers, Kirkpatrick also loved to get his hands dirty – and he brought that passion to his vision for the Science Museum Oklahoma.
“My grandfather was a handyman,” said Christian Keesee, Kirkpatrick’s grandson. “When my grandfather started the science museum, the idea was practical. He wanted to create a space where young people could come and visit and be fully engaged – and that includes touching things.… So I think that really matches. “
Keesee honors his grandfather’s fervent love for the Science Museum Oklahoma with his own Platonic Passion Project: a 25-foot interactive outdoor sculpture titled “Finity.”
An imposing representation of the Five Platonic Solids created by world-renowned artist and inventor Tom Shannon, the sculpture was built at the museum’s main entrance in a new outdoor gathering space named Founder’s Plaza in memory of Kirkpatrick.
“Any museum would want to have it in their collection… and the scale is sort of heroic. This building is huge. So you can’t just put just any piece of art on the front and thinking it’s going to work… be huge, so I felt like this ladder really worked, ”said Keesee, president of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund.
“It certainly captures your imagination.”
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Take art for a ride
On permanent loan from the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, the sculpture will be dedicated on August 25 in a morning ceremony featuring Keesee, Shannon and Bob Blackburn, retired executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The construction fence that has circled “Finity” since installation began in July will be removed so people can literally start taking a ride with the sculpture.
“The whole sculpture itself turns. And it creates a really unusual kind of optical illusion due to the balance of each of the shapes. So when it spins, it looks like it’s an impossible stack. push on the base to spin the sculpture, ”said Science Museum Oklahoma President Sherry Marshall, who will also be speaking at the dedication.
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“It’s big and shiny – and who can resist big and shiny? It’s an incredibly iconic piece for the museum. It really sets the tone from the second you approach the building.”
“Finity” is just a permanent installation in the United States for Shannon, an acclaimed New York-based artist whose installation “Atom Compass Array” of 520 precisely arranged black and white balls is on display in the lobby. from the Science Museum Oklahoma.
“It’s beyond my expectations to see this in front of the building. We looked forward to the first talks that took place two or three years ago … to see this finally in place, the physical representation of the whole artwork, all the speeches, all the shots and designs, it’s just thrilling, ”said Marshall.
Shaping a monument
Shannon’s first Oklahoma exhibit, “Universe in the Mind | Mind in the Universe,” was shown in 2019-2020 in the smART Space galleries at Science Museum Oklahoma after Keesee recommended his work to staff at the OKC institution. .
“It’s math. It’s physics. It’s art. It’s culture. It’s beauty. That’s all. There are so many different layers of science, ”Marshall said.
Shannon’s stainless steel “Finity” sculpture represents the five Platonic solids, the only forms in nature that have equal angles and edge lengths.
“It can be mathematically proven that only these five shapes can do this. Each of these shapes can be circumscribed by a sphere and all the corners will touch the surface of the sphere. You can also put a sphere at the interior that just touches the edges, ”Shannon explained in a 2019 interview.
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These significant shapes represented in “Finity” are the cube, which has six equal squares connected to each other, with three faces meeting at each corner; the pyramid, or tetrahedron, with four equal three-sided triangles meeting at each corner; the octahedron, with eight faces composed of similar triangles and four faces which meet at each corner; the dodecahedron, which has 12 identical pentagon-shaped faces and three faces meeting at each corner; and the icosahedron, with 20 identical triangular faces, with five encounters at each corner.
“These shapes are so unusual, and the way he stacks them up is so unusual. And it’s just his creative brain and mindset that brings it all together,” Marshall said.
“The metal is polished to a mirror-like finish, and that adds, in my opinion, to what ‘Finity’ means. You look at that space reflecting towards the stars, towards the ground, and it just feels right. not only are you looking at the sculpture, but you are looking at the reflections of the world around you – and the different shapes and angles give you a unique perspective on it. ”
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Create a lasting work of art
Considered the key to the development of geometry and mathematics, the Platonic solids are named after the Greek philosopher Plato, who linked them to various aspects of the universe. The cube corresponded to earth, the icosahedron to water, the octahedron to air, the pyramid to fire and the dodecahedron to the cosmos.
Shannon said her sculpture is designed to withstand the elements.
“It has an axle at the bottom about 8 inches in diameter that goes down into a concrete block under the ground 10 feet by 10 feet by 3 feet, attached to a massive foundation that stabilizes it. It was designed by the best engineers for safety. It can withstand a wind of 170 miles (per hour), ”he said.
Although its construction was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Shannon said “Finity” was made in Shanghai, China by a company that made its previous sculptures. It was one of those sculptures that first caught Keesee’s attention in a magazine and prompted him to make a phone call to Shannon’s Brooklyn studio.
“A big piece of shiny metal was floating above this magnet in the ground and was covered in grass. So it really looks like it’s levitating because it’s levitating … There is a magnet. under the ground that pushes it up. A kid can step on it and give it a strong push, and it kind of wobbles and comes back to its original place. That really caught my attention, “said Keesee, who divides his time between Oklahoma, New York and Colorado.
“If my grandfather had known the artist, they would have gotten along very well.… He’s also a kind of handyman.”
Keesee said Kirkpatrick would also be happy with the growth of the museum.
“When he went to the science museum before he died (in 2006), he really liked to see people engaged. He liked to see young people running. He liked to see them learn and actively absorb information,” said Keesee, who is also President. from Kirkpatrick Bank.
“One of the things I love when I go to the science museum is that I don’t see children on cell phones. I don’t see children crying. They are having fun. They are totally engaged, moving around, jumping on things and learning. And that’s kind of what he wanted to see and what he would have considered successful. ”
Dedication of the sculpture ‘Finity’
When: 10 a.m. 25 August.
Or: Outside the Science Museum Oklahoma, 2020 Remington Place.