Volume 75, Number 15 | Aug. 31 - Sep 06, 2005

Back to School

New School mural is an event

A new mural, “Event Horizon,” right, by Kara Walker graces the lobby of New School University’s Arnhold Hall at 55 W. 13th St. The site-specific work, done in April, is African-American artist Walker’s first public commission and joins a recent commission by the artist Sol LeWitt in the same lobby. “Event Horizon” was created in response to its placement along a grand stairway leading from the main lobby to a major public program space, the Theresa Lang Student and Community Center. Walker associated this passageway with the Underground Railroad, which is represented as a tunnel. Just as people ascend and descend the stairway, the mural’s characters climb and fall through the tunnel. A slave driver in the work’s left-hand corner attempts to drive the characters down the tunnel, but they aspire to climb out to freedom and opportunity.

“Like the New School itself, ‘Event Horizon’ reflects the intersection of art, politics and social issues,” said New School University President Bob Kerrey. “A metaphorical Underground Railroad, the piece can be seen not only as a commentary on the African-American community’s historical struggle for freedom, but education’s role in today’s society as a route to opportunity.”

“Event Horizon” was commissioned as part of a renewed commitment by the university to supporting the creation of new art in its public spaces. This tradition began in 1930 with the opening of the university’s first building, 66 W. 12th St., and the commissioning of works by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco, American artist Thomas Hart Benton and Ecuadorian artist Camilo Egas.

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