The quality of being related to someone by blood is known as “consanguinity.” Originating from Latin roots con - “together” and sanguinueus- “of blood” the term encompasses what it really means to be a part of a greater whole. Similarly, the sculpture that hangs in the lobby area of Philips Hall encompases tthose exact same themes.  

Originally constructed to be placed in a conference room in McGuffey Hall, Consanguinity is now a permanent resident of Phillips Hall and the Kinesiology Department. The department adopted the piece and asked its creator, James Killy, to reinstall it after the renovation of McGuffey Hall. The new home of the sculpture was a decision based on the overall design and intent that James Killy had for the piece. Intended to be interactive and participatory, the piece was hung on the right wall of the lobby area in order for its kinetic properties to be utilized by staff, students, and visitors. Just as the word “consanguinity” means to be of something greater than yourself, the wooden sculpture of the same name invites its viewers to interact with its wooden beams attached by ropes which activate the small wooden disks inside the “waffle iron” like compartments. Killy expressed an interest in having people be able to interact and touch his artwork in a way they cannot with other works, “I hope people will get a sense of understanding that some art is meant to be touched. Motion and rhythm can sometimes bring another dimension and meaning to concepts in contemporary art” (Killy).

A professor in the Department of Art from 1976 to 2008, James Killy was an active member in shaping Miami’s sculpture program. While he taught everything from wood carving, mold making techniques, bronze casting to even performance art, Killy was always experimenting with interactive sculpture techniques that focused on wood construction. With his sculpture Consanguinity, he explored the concept of being tied to a familial unit. Constructing each piece out of hardwood, he used similar methods and tools to that of cabinet making constructing each circular form to specifically be symbolic of a person or persons in a ancestral unit.

There is a constant flow of visitors that pour in and out of the transit area of Phillips Hall each day. Although the kinetic wooden sculpture was intended for these individuals, it goes mostly unnoticed and untouched. The placement of the sculpture is somewhat questionable as  Consanguinity’s main purpose is ruptured without the touch of a human. The structure may not be at fault, but rather the location of the piece and the space it inhabits. Moving the sculpture could exceed the expectations of the space by connecting people to it, mimicking the very theme the artwork encompasses: being a building block of one entity. By inviting individuals to connect with the work in some way, Consanguinity’s purpose would be restored and possibly become a catalyst that brings in other artworks that engage the public and transform the space around them.


Works Cited

Killy, James. Consanguinity Questions. 8 April. 2018. Personal Interview.