September 26, 2012

Williams’ new sculpture, and its significance to Lafayette College

Have you seen the new sculpture next to the Williams Center for the Arts?

The Black Lighting sculpture at the Williams Center for the Arts

This piece of art is called “Black Lightning” and it was created in 1984 by Ronald Bladen, a famous New York artist, and a pioneer of minimalism. The sculpture’s purpose is to complement the adjacent building, Williams Center for the Arts, with its play on light, shadow, and space by using simple shape and painted steel.

But the main purpose of the sculpture lies within the college itself.

Lafayette College, a liberal arts college in Easton, Pa, is well-known for its engineering program. In fact, it has just been ranked 39th in national liberal arts colleges. When I applied to Lafayette, I noticed that it was ranked one of the top 10 undergraduate engineering schools in the nation.

The reason why the college was ranked so high is because of its unique combination of liberal arts and engineering. Here, engineers are required to take at least 5 humanities and social science courses, in which depth and breadth  are a requirement. This would mean that engineers will not only be challenged in rational thinking, but in critical thinking and creativity as well.

Black Lightning before the Williams Center for the Arts

The college’s purpose for sculpture is to promote the freedom of expression and creativity here on campus. By having this statue, the college showed physically that liberal arts is a significant idea to the campus and that it is important to be well rounded, not just as an engineer, but as an artist, historian, mathematician…

And I am proud to say that now, I am an engineer who is well rounded; an engineer who can write both technically and creatively; an engineer who can think outside the box, and within limits; and most importantly, an engineer who can look at a piece of sculpture and realize its importance within a small college like Lafayette.

posted in Binh Pham

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  1. I prefer the steel connection sculpture. It was donated for free. It cost the fabricator about 2 grand to make. And it costs about 60 bucks to paint every few years. Plus, you can take it apart.

    says Steve Kurtz
    September 28, 2012 at 12:42 am
  2. While I totally agree with your assessment of our liberal arts engineering degree, I think that much money on a statue that is actually relatively hard to find unless you walk right up to the arts building is a waste when we’re being charged so much by the school for everything.

    says Carson Montgomery Gentry
    September 28, 2012 at 12:42 am
  3. $250,000??? Does it transform into a helicopter?

    says Nicolas Enrique
    September 28, 2012 at 12:43 am
  4. So 250,000 dollars for a sculpture but no money to keep the Health Center open on week ends and at night??

    says William Rappolt
    October 1, 2012 at 8:49 am
  5. The college did not purchase the sculpture. It was a generous loan from the Ronald Bladen Estate.

    says Liza Mattison
    October 4, 2012 at 12:17 pm

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