Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
On April 12th, the Calder mobile “Back from Rio” was moved from its customary spot in front of Pearson to the field between Kohlberg, Martin, the Science Center, and Beardsley. “Back from Rio” was created in 1959 and donated to Swarthmore in 1967.
Pearson used to be the home of the art department, and so the sculpture was first installed there. Once the art department moved to Beardsley, the location started making less sense. While one of the reasons for the move was to keep the sculpture close to the art department and to put in a place where more people would notice it, the safety of the piece was a more pressing consideration.
According to sculptor and Professor of Studio Art Brian Meunier, the area in front of Pearson was not as well-traveled, “and the sculpture was frequently damaged by people who were trying to spin it.” After finding a piece on the the ground two years ago, Meunier took the sculpture to local resident Christopher Ray to be restored in a process that was completed last summer.
“We were looking for the perfect site,” explained Meunier, “one with a little bit of wind so that people wouldn’t have to spin it all the time.” In the location where it is now, the sculpture is positioned on the top of a mound high enough for wind to catch it, more dramatic, and out of reach of people. In order to keep the sculpture safe, said Meunier, “the mound will be covered with prickly undergrowth to keep them away.”
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