Deer, Geese, and Gnomes? Oh my!

The New CSI Art Gallery and Exhibit Will Feature a Giant Gnome Sculpture

By: Jennifer Weeks

A team of CSI students got to lend their helping hands in crafting a 20-foot tall wooden Gnome sculpture that will add to College of Staten Island’s art exhibit.

The project is being led by Beatrix Reinhardt, professor of photography and curator of the art exhibit. Alongside Professor Reinhardt is Finnish sculptor Kalle Mustonen as well as Jean Pitman, the Youth and Community Programs Manager at the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio.

When reaching out to the sculptor via email, he responded to a simple question: why a Gnome?

“[The] Garden Gnome is a familiar figure. It brings out love or hate. That’s the magic of Kitch. In general, all the little spirits, whatever we call them, take care of our property. But only if we treat them well. We’re on the edge of global catastrophe. We are too close to realize what’s happening. The little and bigger gnomes are indicators of our relationship with nature”.

This will be Kalle Mustonen’s first piece where he will have an assistant; all the pieces he has previously worked on were completed alone.

Reinhardt and Mustonen were also not alone in creating this huge project. In fact, 21 students currently attending CSI took part in creating the enormous sculpture. In addition to the Gnome studies project, the students will be working on their own independent pieces that will allow artistic freedom.

While many students who partook in this special event were students of Reinhardt, there were quite a few volunteers as well. The students who were involved in this project were offered internship credits, which sparked the interest of many art majors. Other students who were not art majors simply volunteered their time for a chance to work with the renowned sculptor.

Prior to the sculptor arriving at the College of Staten Island, the students chosen for this project had already made a small scale of what would soon be the beginning of the Gnome project.

They all began the project in June and it was conducted into August. All participants who partook in the project were in building 1P, in the Sculptor room, and arrived as early as 10 a.m. and staying until around 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

It was a two-shift system for interns and volunteers. The interns/volunteers were split up into two shifts—pairs or groups of three would work on certain parts of the sculpture. While they worked, Mustonen designed the next steps for the group before they finished their current tasks.

When asking the artist how it was to work with students, Mustonen responded, “They were excited. That gave me extra energy to work days on the sculpture. The hardest part was to let go of total control. This was the first time I created a piece with assistants.”

The Gnome Sculpture is currently completed and is awaiting its big debut. There was a dinner event hosted by the Art Gallery on August 24th, where the installation of the Gnome was completed.

The official inauguration will be held on September 19, where it will be permanently displayed in the woods behind building 1P. It will be accompanied by an exhibition about the making of the sculpture in the CSI art gallery. There will also be an exhibit for the personal projects of each participating student.

Be sure to check out this enormous piece once it is on display for all to admire!

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