Screens of Afflatus
The Screens of Afflatus by Giancarlo Calicchia were commissioned for the B.E.S.T. Library through the Ohio Percent for Art Program. The work was unveiled during the remodeling of the library in August of 2011. Calicchia is a sculptor with workshops located across the world, one of which is located in Cleveland, Ohio. He predominately works in stone, bronze, and wood yet the screens are mainly made out of glass. The choice of material gives more transparency and color to the space. When the light comes in from the windows surrounding the piece the glass is illuminated. Color then fills the lobby of the building creating a more dynamic and welcoming environment. The work is situated in the lobby, directly opposite the viewer as they walk in. This forces the viewer to engage with it in some way as they enter the library. While serving as a partition, there are still gaps in between the panels, which allows for more openness. However, tables, stools and other facets in the library then obscure this openness.
The 6 by 26 foot screens display scenes from the four specialty areas of study including the natural sciences, engineering, applied sciences and business. Situated at the entrance to the building, the brightly colored and abstractly patterned glass sparks intrigue. The word afflatus translates to “a divine creative impulse or inspiration” thus inspiring students to continue learning as they walk through the entrance. This also connects back to Calicchia’s personal philosophy: “Art should encourage and exalt this basic human drive to learn and create to the limits of our ability" (Calicchia, 2011). In addition to the main installation of the screen there are rectangular tiles of about 8 inches in size surrounding the work. These glass tiles each display a different symbol related to the areas of study displayed on the screens. For example there is one tile, which displays the Vitruvian Man, relating to the discipline of science. Another tile has a wheel and a mechanical instrument, relating to engineering. These symbols display a more “concrete” interpretation of the subject matter of the art. Rather than having to unpack the art itself, the symbols more clearly can delineate the meaning of the screens. However, some designs on the screens themselves are distinguishable of the different disciplines. For example, there are sections, which appear to be slides of cells, representative of the applied sciences.
The curvature in the sculpture activates the eye encouraging the viewer to explore the entire piece. Inside each of the panels as well there is movement throughout. The eye is carried across the piece through the curvature of the sculpture, designs and panes themselves. With the added component of natural light that shines into the space at specific times of the day, a truly dynamic and immersive experience is created. Additionally, the movement generates creativity by connecting the fields visually and artistically.