The Block Campus Art Walk provides a self-guided outdoor opportunity to engage with campus sculptures


Courtesy of The Block Museum of Art, Copyright Sean Su Photography

One of the sculptures featured on the Block Campus Art Walk, Barbara Hepworth’s Two Forms (Divided Circle)

Matt Marth, Reporter

As the Northwestern and Evanston community’s options for recreation become more constrained by colder weather amid COVID-19, Block Museum of Art’s Campus Art Walk provides an accessible and safe way to engage with the diverse collection of sculptures on campus.

The self-guided tour includes 16 sculptures, all located within a short walk from Block itself. An audio guide, accessible online and by calling a phone number, accompanies the walk, providing context and helping the viewer engage in different ways with each sculpture.

The Block Campus Art Walk, though seemingly tailor-made for this year, was developed largely by student interns in 2017. Isabella Ko (Weinberg ‘20) and Nicholas Liou (Weinberg ‘20), both curatorial interns at the Block three years ago, completed research and recorded the audio guide for the Art Walk. The two also helped put together the Family Activity Guide, complete with prompts encouraging art enthusiasts of all ages to engage in new ways with these works.

Lindsay Bosch, the Block’s senior manager of marketing and communications, said the self-guided nature of the walk makes it very accessible to the public. The sculptures, many of which are located outdoors, continue to be valuable to the Block, which has a relatively small footprint.

“One of the fun things about the Campus Art Walk is that you don’t have to have a certain amount of time,” Bosch said. “If you’re visiting the campus, if you’re just passing through, you can see a couple, or you can go off and do them all.”

NU students will likely recognize many of these works, some of which can be found in the lobby of the Bienen School of Music while others dot the green space south of Main Library.

The sculptures are broadly modernist, but span most of the 20th century with pieces from as early as 1922 and as recent as 2000. Renowned artists such as Spanish surrealist Joan Miró and English modernist Barbara Hepworth are featured as part of the tour.

For Corinne Granof, academic curator at the Block, the various works sprinkled across South Campus are lessons in 20th century modernist art and ways of thinking about abstract forms hidden in plain sight.

Granof also believes these works are particularly suited to this day and age.

“Many of them kind of provide this moment of pause or reflection, which I think also works well in this time of COVID,” Granof said. “They’re kind of calming or they provide a moment of solace or respite.”

Tom Bentsen, a Communication junior, said the sculptures enrich the beauty of campus, and make otherwise busy days feel idyllic, similar to places on campus like the Shakespeare Garden.

Though he wasn’t familiar with the Art Walk prior to COVID-19, Bentsen said the sculptures were a constant, almost daily, presence in his trips to and from classes at the Wirtz Center.

The sculptures that make up the tour, most of which were donated to the museum by its namesakes, Mary and Leigh Block, are unique in their permanence. The Block’s main galleries always rotate, but these sculptures form the foundation of the Block’s permanent collection and most are on view for the public 365 days a year.

“It is the one thing that you can always return to, that will always be on view,” Bosch said. “In that way I think it invites our students and our community to have a kind of different relation with the art, because they’re yours and they’re always there.”

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