Art in public places: Wave sculpture adjacent to Chamberlin Hall on the UW-Madison campus

October 19, 2007

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThousands of people walk by it every day, but few stop to take a look at “Wave,” the sculpture commissioned to celebrate the renovation of Chamberlin Hall, the new Department of Physics Home on the UW-Madison campus.

Created by sculptor Peter Flanary and funded by the Wisconsin Arts Board’s Percent for Art Program, the sculpture was installed the week of June 6, 2005. The UW-Madison Physics Department website has three pages of photographs showing the installation process.

The Wisconsin Physicist newsletter (Fall/Winter 2004-2005) offered this description about the creation of Wave:<

For Peter the creation process is not always direct; he tries to grasp the space in its complexity and wants to create something that can be remarked on by people. He starts working with a form – in the case of this project, a paper ring – and proceeds to bend and fold it, finally creating an undulating wave form which is conceived into the final sculpture, a bronze metal with granite stones. Granite, a glacial stone, comes from the earth from a variety of strata. He called this “poetics in a Whitman-esque way.” He likes material and form and works to have his piece support and work in its environment, growing out of, rather than intruding into, the landscape. His choices of bronze and stone will outlast all of us, and it will serve as a joining of the physical sciences and art, an icon for the new Department of Physics home, Chamberlin Hall.

The Wisconsin Arts Board website offers a slightly more technical description of the sculpture:

Bronze annulus 12′ diameter with a 15″ square cross section. Annulus is shaped with 4 “waves”, each 48″ high. Sculpture is fabricated with 1/8″ bronze plate filled with 4″-6″ granite cobblestones.


Some of Flanary’s other works include three mosaic maps in the linoleum floor of the lobby of the Bay View Library in Milwaukee, one representing Bay View at the time of settlement in 1832; another from 1900, when a steel mill on the lakefront spurred the community’s growth; the third showing the area as it is today and a sculpture at the University of Alabama titled “Walt Whitman Cult Wagon.”

This weekend (October 19-21, 2007), Peter Flanary is participating in the Fall Art Tour of studios of working Wisconsin Artists. His studio is in Mineral Point.

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