Crum Creek Meander prompts creative engagement

Photo by Sadie Rittman.

To the editor:

In the recent editorial titled “The Problem with Crum Creek Meander,” Phoenix editors implied that Stacy Levy’s sculpture is deficient because it has inspired pranks and some students dismissed it as a “carwash.” Rather than wish there to be no difference of opinion, I see here an opportunity to learn more.

In situations like this, it is all too easy to slip into a mode of oppositional thinking — where one is either for or against something. So far, I have heard no carefully reasoned or substantiated arguments that find fault with the work. To the contrary, what I have observed is people of all ages interacting with the sculpture in creative ways. Many people have commented on how much they enjoy the work’s changing appearance over time. They are surprised to see it glowing pink at dusk, looking like a waterfall, or glimmering at night like fireflies. One student choreographed a dance performance at Meander, while others have used it for a scene in a movie. The Swarthmore Friends Nursery School brings groups of toddlers to the sculpture to play there and today 50 students from Elkins Park visited the work.

The core group of volunteers from the surrounding area who helped erect the sculpture cite that their experience helped them become more connected to art, nature, the College and each other; one of them volunteered to be caretaker of the piece, one made a flip book about its evolution, and all felt inspired to work many hours in freezing temperatures, encouraged by positive reactions from passersby. Most people involved with Meander, including Stacy Levy, thought the engineer’s April Fool’s prank was an inventive and amusing homage, not a caricature.

The history of art provides numerous examples of masterworks that were derided at first and later revered. Understanding the need for measured reflection, most of us at Swarthmore try to test our reactions more fully over time. We have the opportunity to compare the varied contexts, criteria, and reasoning we bring to art such as Crum Creek Meander — or any unfamiliar experience.

To find out more: The Scott Arboretum has placed a sign near the top of the sculpture and a brochure box on Magill Walk. Since March 12, the College has provided a webpage with information about Stacy Levy and her two Cooper Foundation-funded projects at Swarthmore. To watch a video of her March 5 lecture, visit After May 15, you can learn more by watching a short video about Levy’s Swarthmore residency. It will be searchable under Crum Creek Meander on YouTube. I would be happy to meet with individuals who wish to discuss this further. You can reach me at

—Andrea Packard

The author is the director of the List Gallery.

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