Wethli's Public Art Celebrates Civic Life

Story posted February 06, 2012

Bowdoin Art Professor Mark Wethli's Percent for Art installation at the University of Southern Maine (USM) was honored at a dedication ceremony Feb. 2 in Portland.

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Mark Wethli's Civitas, at USM's Wishcamper Center.


Wethli and a crew of all-Bowdoin assistants recently put the finishing touches on a 6-by-35-foot wooden sculpture for USM's Wishcamper Center, home of The Muskie School For Public Service.

The angular, low-relief sculpture, titled Civitas, spans an airy inner courtyard. It is the second of two works Wethli created for the commission. His earlier work, Locus, adorns a large wall of the adjacent Osher Library building.

"In a formal sense, Civitas is a dance of architecturally inspired forms that are meant to suggest both conflict and harmony," noted Wethli in his opening remarks. "It is meant to evoke the ideal process of civic life, community building, and the common good. E pluribus unim, out of many, one." (View an installation slideshow.)

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Bowdoin alums Evan Farley'11 and Haley MacKeil '10 (pictured) designed and printed a T-shirt to mark the opening reception for "Civitas." They were part of an installation crew that also included Adrian Bossi '85 and Sam Gilbert '10.


The mural Locus also evokes a sense of place, with a network of black lines reminiscent of roadways, or lines of latitude and longitude, superimposed on a large, green silhouette of Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion map.

"Just as map-making renders the three-dimensional world in two dimensions, and public policy projects abstract principles into real life, so do Locus and Civitas represent and symbolize these processes through their structure and design," noted Wethli.

"My ambition for each of these pieces is to create a space that actively places every viewer in the foreground of the events and activities that happen here."

Maine Percent for Art is made possible by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission.

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