Campus News

Hip to be Square

Story posted May 11, 2000

People are constantly imposing order on the natural world, but we rarely recognize it in our day-to-day lives, according to Bowdoin Senior Kathryn Sodaitis.

For the pedestrians and visitors to the quad outside Cleaveland Hall, that has changed this week.

Sodaitis, a Londonderry, NH native, has laid a grid of bright orange surveyor’s tape over the Cleaveland quad and its walkways. The grid is a final project for an interdisciplinary seminar that grew out of Professor Marilyn Reizbaum’s course in millenial modernity.

Any built environment, like the campus, imposes a human-made order on the natural world. Most of the time we walk in the midst of it without a second thought. The Cleaveland grid is an attempt to bring that often ignored fact to the forefront.

"This is dividing the space even more," Sodaitis said.

Part of her goal was to provoke a reaction from the students. But one of the first reactions came from the author herself.

It wasn’t until she started marking off the thin strips of tape that she realized the installation resembled an archaelogical excavation: the careful laying out and marking of an certain area into exact squares. There is a dimension to the grid that extends below the surface as well as above ground. That aspect of the installation came as a surprise to her.

Each of the squares is just under 12 feet on a side, about twice Sodaitis’ height. The dimensions are the "autobiographical" part of the piece. "You don’t have a place for your signature" on the quad, she noted.

Sodaitis said that she and professor of art Mark Wethli talked about the symbolism of laying out the grid as a giant chessboard, "something where you’re a pawn."

Has there been any vandalism of the piece?

Not yet, she said. So far everyone is playing the game.

Sodaitis’ installation will be in place until Friday, May 12.

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