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The Gateway Building at Casper College: Part administrative offices, part student services, part electronic classrooms... part museum?

Incorporating original works of art into what will be the new campus hub has planned since the beginning of the Gateway Building project. The college board of trustees on Tuesday approved initial contract negotiations to hire internationally-known artist, architect and engineer Cecil Balmond to install a permanent art exhibit in the new building.

Balmond's name stood out to the art committee, but his plans blew them away, said Linda Ryan, art instructor at the college and chair of the project committee.

"It gives life -- it gives visual life to the building," Ryan said. "Students will have the opportunity to learn from his work -- he bridges art, architecture, engineering and science."

The project was bid out with an $85,000 maximum price without limitations on the type, style or medium of art. Nearly 40 artists expressed interest in the project, Ryan said.

Balmond proposed "Gateway Galaxy," an installation in open spaces in the lobbies of the first and second floors of the Gateway Building.

Visitors who enter the first floor will be greeted by a two-story panel with strokes of bright colors hanging a few inches from an acrylic wall. Sunlight will cast different shadows on the work throughout the day.

Colors are not repeated, creating a "slight blur" and "constant puzzle," according to Balmond's description of the project. The colors reappear on the opposite wall in a one-story display of lines broken at 90-degree angles.

The second floor utilizes a space approximately four classrooms long. Lines fill the room -- on the floor, along the walls and in the form of enamel benches for seating. Balmond describes the benches as "three-dimensional growths, social lines and community gatherings."

"The work that he proposed is highly interactive and will engage with the students," Ryan said. "It can change with time of day and seasonally with light."

The lines emulate the beat and resonance of music and none of the patterns are repeated or periodic.

"The art and the student are involved in a continuous and ever-changing dialogue," according to Balmond.

Balmond helped design a 377-foot-tall observation tower and sculpture for the 2012 Olympic games in London. His most recent exhibition, "Element," included sculpture, video and print and was displayed at the Tokyo Opera City in Japan.

Balmond's work has been installed in museums in Denmark, New York and Chicago and soon, Casper.

Reach education reporter Jackie Borchardt at (307) 266-0593 or at jackie.borchardt@trib.com. Read her education blog at trib.com/reportcard and follow her on Twitter @JMBorchardt

 

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