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Stanford Report, January 16, 2002

Artist Andy Goldsworthy returns to campus


Using nature as his collaborator, British environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy has worked for more than two decades shaping leaves, branches, snow, blood, ice, petals, earth and stone into works that might last for a few seconds or for decades. Goldsworthy has sculpted snow arches at the North Pole, pinned chestnut leaves to a tree's trunk with thorns and photographed them as they crumbled near his home in Scotland, and embarked on a years-long public art project rebuilding the remains of historic stone sheep pens as sculpture in northwest England.

Last summer Goldsworthy installed Stone River, a 320-foot-long sandstone sculpture, on 3/4 acre of land northeast of the Cantor Arts Center. The artist, who is returning to campus to photograph his work and to dedicate the sculpture, will give a public lecture Thursday, Jan. 17, at 7 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium at the Law School.

Considered a maverick when he attended art school in the 1970s, "Goldsworthy is one of the most important contemporary artists working today," said Hilarie Faberman, the Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art. "His works clearly resonate with people in an immediate way. They are so simple and so profound at the same time," the curator said. "Stone River will bring art pilgrims to Stanford from all over the world."

At Stanford, Goldsworthy worked with a team of eight professional dry-stone wallers from England and Scotland to create the 128-ton sculpture, which is built of 6,500 stones salvaged from university buildings destroyed in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes. The sculpture is set in the earth in a shallow trough.

"I strive to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made," he said. "I hope that the sculpture will reside somewhere between a building and a quarry. It will bring together the stone's geological and social nature."

"In recent years, I have worked directly with trees and stones in an attempt to tap into the life and energy contained within them," he has written.

Stone River was a gift from the Robert and Ruth Halperin Foundation in honor of the presidency of Gerhard Casper.