This week we welcome the Art Department Board of Visitors to campus. I look forward to spending time with them and sharing much about our students, faculty and the creative vitality of our department. Please say hello if you see us in the halls.

I was driving home with my son a few nights ago, listening to NPR as Fresh Air came on at its usual time. What was unusual and, for me, quite spellbinding was on that evening, Terry Gross was interviewing the Scottish sculptor Andy Goldsworthy. For those of you that know Goldsworthy’s work, it is often ephemeral, transitory and constructed of materials that are found on the site at which he is working. However, as the interview progressed it was clear the Ms. Gross had an extraordinary grasp of Goldsworthy’s work; his dedication to place-making, his tenaciousness in working with the natural world and his childlike joy at the moment when all the elements that he is juggling, as he makes a site-responsive sculpture, unify into something that might be called “successful.” What I was perhaps most taken with was Goldsworthy’s own description of failure and its value in his own artistic practice. He noted:

Failure is really, really important, but failures have to hurt… And if I start making this work with the intention of it collapsing, then I’ve lost that intensity of the will for it to succeed… I have to be fully committed to them succeeding. I couldn’t make them otherwise. And you cannot feel that commitment without feeling or having a deep sense of loss when they do collapse or fail, and that’s inevitable.

Goldsworthy describes that he is invested in the “success” of the work, but the “failure” is also a poignant and very real part of his creative practice.

I encourage you to listen to the full interview here.

Douglas Rosenberg
Chair, Art Department