Denning House tours open to the public
The Stanford community and the general public are invited to tour the home of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, enjoy the surrounding scenery, and experience its world-class art.
Beginning Thursday, March 9, the Stanford community and the public are invited to free tours of Denning House, the home of Knight-Hennessy Scholars. The building is a unique and inspiring gathering space that houses an impressive art collection from diverse and renowned artists.
“We want to invite people from the community to come to Denning House, enjoy the artwork, and see beautiful Lake Lag,” said John Hennessy, the Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars, who served as Stanford president from 2000 to 2016. Knight-Hennessy Scholars, the largest endowed graduate fellowship in the world, provides funding and leadership development to a diverse, multidisciplinary community of students across all seven schools at Stanford.
Throughout Denning House are pieces from emerging and established artists who are poised to make lasting impacts in the arts. The collection includes prints, sculptures, and interactive installations and evokes many thought-provoking themes.
“One of the remarkable things about art is that there isn’t a single interpretation. There’s ambiguity and nuance,” Hennessy said. “I think that’s such an important factor in education and when you’re thinking about big problems in the world.”
Outside Denning House, visitors are greeted by MOCNA, a 17-foot tall abstract bronze sculpture designed by German artist Ursula von Rydingsvard. The piece has textured, faceted surfaces that reveal traces of the human hand and other natural forms and is illuminated at night. It was commissioned as the first piece in the Denning House art collection and was installed in 2018.
Upon entering Denning House, visitors ascend a large staircase, above which is a floating installation called Wolf 359 c/M+M by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno. The sculpture is made of geometric shapes and is informed by the worlds of art, architecture, natural sciences, and engineering.
The newest addition to the collection is Red Leaves by Elias Sime of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The wall structure is located in the upstairs living room of Denning House. It is made from electrical wires and circuit boards and depicts a grid of red leaves that appear to levitate off the surface of the sculpture.
Joslyn Gray, director of facilities, management, design, and construction at Denning House, will lead the tours. She said the collection was curated specifically for the building and the works of art were meant to tie into the themes of Knight-Hennessy Scholars and the global challenges many of the scholars are working to address.
“The pieces are nice to look at, but you’ll see they have deeper meanings about race, immigration, civil rights, artificial intelligence, nature, science, and sustainability,” she said, adding that the pieces will rotate over time.
On a wall in a second-floor gathering room is Apparition (Golden) by Teresita Fernández of Miami. Using gold and charcoal made from burned trees, the artwork emphasizes the connections between places, people, and materials, and addresses colonization and violence.
In another large room is Pregnant Mountains – Trustworthy #316 by South Korean artist Haegue Yang. Yang works with commonplace, mass-produced materials whose aesthetic presence and potential are often overlooked, including space heaters, light bulbs, synthetic straw, venetian blinds, supply catalogs, and jingle bells. Part of the Trustworthy series, Pregnant Mountains consists of collages from the series that are arranged into a constellation of twinkling polychrome stars against a field of gold leaf.
Tomo Kumahira is a Knight-Hennessy Scholar and an MBA student at Stanford Graduate School of Business. He said the pieces in the Denning House art collection add to the milieu of the building and inspire the scholars in their academic and professional pursuits.
“All of these artworks provide good energy and bring a very different vibe to the space,” he said. “We’re excited to share this with the community.”
Denning House was made possible by a gift from Roberta Bowman Denning, ’75, MBA ’78, and Steve Denning, MBA ’78. Designed by New York-based Ennead Architects, the timber-framed building overlooks Lake Lagunita, which is currently full following the recent winter storms.