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The Quad Hits the Hay: 100 Bales Become Art

By Francesca E. Bignami

Take a trip to the Quad. See ancient wonders.

See ancient wonders?

Well, sort of.

The Quad, home of three Harvard houses and at least two student artists with a penchant for landscape art, is now the resting place for 100 bales of hay, stacked to form a set of sculptures reminiscent of ancient ruins--columns, building outlines, paths and gates.

Fred W. Umminger '90 and George C. Waldrep III '90, the project's creators, received $700 from the Office for the Arts to build their hay ruins and other landscape art.

But apparently some students don't appreciate the art which sprung up in their midst Saturday morning.

"It just looks like stacks of hay," said Tippi C. Saydam '91. "It looks like you're in the middle of a farm."

In the past the Quad has been the object of a variety of landscape experiments. Two years ago, a Harvard artist set up half-buried, colored picnic tables. Last year, one artist suggested painting portions of the Quad's grass bright orange, but the plan drew widespread opposition and was never executed.

According to Myra A. Mayman, director of the Office for the Arts and a former master of Cabot House, there is a point to all the artistic experimentation.

Landscape art makes use of the environment to sensitize people to their surroundings, Mayman said. "Part of [the project] is to make people aware of what a fabulous space the Quad is. It has a huge effect on your lifestyle," she added.

The purpose of the hay arrangement was to bring out the temporary quality of built form, according to Umminger. "The original idea was to remind people of how no architectural thing is permanent and to emphasize how arrangements of space change over time," he said.

Quad residents and passers-by are meant to wander around the hay and alter the set-up, said Umminger. "We would like people to start playing with it and make new patterns."

The stacks of hay will remain for two weeks, Waldrep said. "In two weeks [the arrangement] is going to look much different from how it looks now," he added.

The second stage of the project, in which the two artists will tie ribbons to the tops of buildings in the Quad to create a canopy, will go up at the beginning of reading period, said Umminger.

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