Salem, Oregon – A 22,000-pound steel sculpture by Seattle artist John Fleming, commissioned through Oregon’s Percent for Art in Public Places Program, has been installed outside Oregon Institute for Technology’s Cornett Hall. Titled “Fibonacci’s Arc,” the sculpture is inspired by the spiraling arc of the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical formula often called nature’s universal rule. The Percent for Art in Public Places Program is managed by the Oregon Arts Commission.
Comprised of multiple thin layers of steel, “Fibonacci’s Arc” seeks to bridge nature and technology. Measuring 38 feet in height, it was designed to be an ongoing teaching tool for engineering students at OIT. Fleming described his thinking in designing the sculpture: “OIT’s new Cornett Hall has maker spaces, incubator labs and interactive workspaces. I wondered if this interactivity, this making and incubating, might apply to art as well as engineering. Could my 22,000-pound Arc, inspired by the Fibonacci sequence: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 … also inspire the way engineering students view their world?”
During the artwork commissioning process, Professor of Civil Engineering Charles Riley engaged students in modeling and calculations and created a physical model of the sculpture. “’Fibonacci’s Arc’ and John Fleming presented Oregon Tech with a wonderful opportunity to engage students in using their developing technical skills to quantify the safety and structural behavior of an unlikely structure,” said Riley. “As the sculpture encouraged curiosity in those students who participated in its structural analysis, so will it inspire wonder in all those students who walk past it or take a moment to determine if they can get it to move,” he added.
Originally build in 1964, Cornett Hall is one of the original buildings on Oregon Tech’s campus and the largest building at more than 100,000 square feet. OIT undertook a renovation of Cornett Hall, completed in 2020, in a three-year phased process that allowed teaching to continue in the building. Historically, industrial vocations were housed in the building. Currently, Cornett Hall is the primary project lab building for the School of Engineering, Technology and Management, consisting of industrial labs, classrooms and workspaces. The focus of the renovation was to reorganize the building around a new lobby and corridor system, with a central collaborative space for interdisciplinary activity.
Guided by Oregon’s Percent for Art Statute, an art selection committee was assembled to consider the most appropriate artwork for the building. Through a competitive process, the selection committee –comprised of Oregon Tech faculty, staff, the project architects and local arts professionals and chaired by Renee Couture of the Arts Commission – selected Fleming to create a site-specific exterior sculpture. Fleming’s artwork proposal aligned with the selection committee’s goals of commissioning an artwork that was conceptually connected to engineering through materials and form, and that would respond to the architecture of Cornett Hall.
Fleming is a Seattle-based artist and architect best-known for his public art sculptures. Much of his work blurs the boundaries between art, architecture and the environment. He has a long history creating public artworks and architecture with commissions in Arizona, Colorado, California, Washington, Iowa, Wyoming and Oregon.
“Fibonacci’s Arc” is located near the main entrance to Cornett Hall in the grassy area located east of the building on Oregon Tech’s Klamath Falls campus (3201 Campus Drive).