CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – In 1985, a young Austin Peay State University art student named Mike Andrews used rebar, chicken wire and a bit of concrete to create a dazzling sculpture titled “Light Modulator.” The piece was a bright white, and it was designed to interact with the movement of the sun, playing with both light and shadow.
The sculpture was placed on a small, grassy hill outside the University’s Kimbrough Building, where it sat for almost three decades exposed to not only the sun, but also strong winds, downpours and numerous ice and snow storms. By last spring, “Light Modulator” was a dented, dingy gray slab of concrete that appeared to be sinking into the earth.
“The soil built up about six inches around the base,” Christopher Burawa, director of the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative arts, said. “It was looking worn and grimy, with moss and lichen growing up it.”
That’s no way to treat a gift, much less a work of art. So Burawa contacted Andrews about restoring the piece, and on a muggy afternoon in late May, the two men visited the sculpture armed with shovels, a pressure-washer and a bag of concrete. Now a seemingly new, blazing white public art piece sits atop that small hill.
“It was just weathering, with moss growing up on it,” Andrews said. “I studied (Japanese-American sculptor) Isamu Noguchi, who said once you finished a piece, it takes on a life of its own. It evolves into whatever it becomes. I like that philosophy and appreciate it. But some pieces, it just doesn’t work with. ‘Light Modulator’ needed to be cleaned.”
The APSU Center of Excellence paid for the cleaning and the materials, and Burawa said marble chips will be placed around the sculpture’s base. The little hill will also be landscaped, giving the piece a more pleasing setting.
“I felt that we had to do something because we’re the stewards of these pieces,” Burawa said. “We really have to insure that they’re kept up and maintained. These are things that add to the environment of the University.”
For more information on this project, contact the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at 221-7876.
Photo cutline: Christopher Burawa, left, works with artist Mike Andrews to restore Andrew’s sculpture, “Light Modulator.”