The News Service
Paola Pivi’s donkey mural will leave the Sciences Library July 15
The exhibition of artist Paola Pivi’s untitled mural of a donkey riding in a rowboat, currently displayed on the exterior face of the Sciences Library at Brown University, will conclude July 15, 2004. Concerned for the work’s safety, the University decided to remove it prior to the late-summer hurricane season.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Time is running out for Thayer Street visitors to enjoy the playful and enigmatic photographic mural of a donkey riding in a rowboat, currently adorning the western façade of Brown University’s Sciences Library on Thayer Street.
Exhibition of Untitled (Donkey), 2003, a work by artist Paola Pivi. will conclude July 15, 2004. The mural was brought to campus in April by the University’s Public Art Committee as part of its Art on Campus program, on loan from the artist, courtesy of Galerie Massimo de Carlo in Milan, Italy.
The donkey’s image, which Pivi created using ink jet on pvc, has been a conversation piece for Thayer Street pedestrians, prompting amusement as well as speculation about the artist’s possible transnational political interests. Pivi is a young Italian artist who is relatively unknown in the United States, but her work has been shown widely throughout Europe and Asia. Donkey, one of a series of whimsical images by Pivi in which animals show up in unexpected places – zebras on a snowy mountainside or ostriches in the ocean – was included in the 2003 Venice Biennale.
“The reaction to the mural far exceeded our expectations,” said Jo-Ann Conklin, director of Brown’s David Winton Bell Gallery and a member of the Public Art Committee. “It has been immensely popular. Students embraced it as a mascot of sorts, writing essays about the artist and her work and appropriating the image for use in political posters. One viewer wrote to say that it ‘makes me happy every time I see it.’ This is the kind of response that we always hope public art will generate.”
The mural – some 33 feet, 6 inches by 40 feet, 4 inches – is stretched over a metal armature attached to the Sciences Library and covers a three-floor segment on the Thayer Street side of the building. The approach of hurricane season and the University’s concern for the work’s safety led to the mid-July closing of the exhibition, Conklin noted.
The Public Art Committee, an affiliate of the Corporation’s Facilities and Design Committee, arranges for the loan of significant works of art to Brown for display in public spaces. Since its inception the group has brought to campus Roy Lichtenstein’s 30-foot-high sculpture Brushstrokes, which can be seen behind MacMillan Hall; Lichtenstein’s Metallic Brushstroke Head, located in the lobby of the Watson Institute of International Studies; Isamu Noguchi’s To Tallness, an 11-foot stone sculpture installed on The College Green; and David Nash’s burned wood Box Cross, on the lawn outside List Art Center. The exhibit of the pieces by Lichtenstein and Nash at the Watson and List will also conclude later this summer. Alexander Calder’s Tripe, 1974, will be installed on Brown’s front green in August.
Chaired by Chancellor Emeritus Artemis Joukowsky, the committee includes Robert Emlen, University curator; Richard Fishman, chair of visual art and director of the Creative Arts Council; Dietrich Neumann, professor of history of art and architecture; and Conklin. For more information, call (401) 863-3993.