Salem, Oregon – A 22,000-pound steel sculpture by Seattle artist John Fleming, commissioned by Oregon’s Percent for Art in Public Places program, has been installed outside Cornett Hall in Oregon Institute for Technology. Titled “Fibonacci Arch”, the sculpture is inspired by the spiraling arc of the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical formula often referred to as the universal rule of nature. The Percentage of Art in Public Places program is administered by the Oregon Arts Commission.
Composed of several thin layers of steel, the “Fibonacci arc” seeks to establish a bridge between nature and technology. Measuring 38 feet tall, it was designed to be a continuous teaching tool for OIT engineering students. Fleming described his thinking when designing the sculpture: “The new Cornett Hall at the ILO includes creative spaces, incubation labs and interactive workspaces. I wondered if this interactivity, this manufacturing and this incubation, could apply to art as well as to engineering. My 22,000 pound Arc, inspired by the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… could it also inspire the way engineering students see their world?
During the artwork commissioning process, civil engineering professor Charles Riley engaged students in modeling and calculations and created a physical model of the sculpture. “’Fibonacci‘s Arc’ and John Fleming have provided Oregon Tech with a wonderful opportunity to engage students in using their technical development skills to quantify the safety and structural behavior of an unlikely structure,” Riley said. “As the sculpture encouraged the curiosity of the students who participated in its structural analysis, it will inspire wonder in all students who pass by or take a moment to determine if they can make it move,” he said. added.
Originally built in 1964, Cornett Hall is one of the original buildings on the Oregon Tech campus and the largest building at over 100,000 square feet. The ILO undertook a refurbishment of Cornett Hall, completed in 2020, as part of a three-year process that allowed teaching to continue in the building. Historically, industrial vocations were housed in the building. Currently, Cornett Hall is the project’s main laboratory building for the School of Engineering, Technology, and Management, consisting of industrial laboratories, classrooms, and workspaces. The goal of the renovation was to reorganize the building around a new lobby and corridor system, with a central collaborative space for interdisciplinary activities.
Guided by Oregon’s Percent for Art Statute, an artwork selection committee was assembled to consider the most appropriate artwork for the building. Through a competitive process, the selection committee—composed of faculty, staff, project architects, and local arts professionals from Oregon Tech and chaired by Renee Couture of the Arts Commission—selected Fleming to create a site-specific outdoor sculpture. Fleming’s artwork proposal matched the selection committee’s goals of commissioning an artwork that was conceptually related to engineering through material and form, and that would respond to the architecture of Cornett Hall. .
Fleming is a Seattle-based artist and architect best known for his public art sculptures. Much of his work blurs the lines between art, architecture and the environment. He has a long history of creating public art and architecture with commissions in Arizona, Colorado, California, Washington, Iowa, Wyoming and Oregon.
“The Fibonacci arc” is located near the main entrance to Cornett Hall in the grassy area east of the building on Oregon Tech’s Klamath Falls campus (3201 Campus Drive).