Queen's University Site Art - Articles - Part 1

Photo of the sculpture called Ground Outline
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Ground Outline, aka "the big white frame."
Photo by Emily MacLaurin-King

Understanding outdoor sculpture on campus:

Part 1:  the big white frame
Part 2:  the donut on the pole
Part 3:  the squiggle on the wall
Part 4:  the big orange triangle
Part 5:  big weird rocks
Part 6:  the biosci box

Understanding outdoor sculpture on campus
Part 1 of a 6 part series: the big white frame

By David Missio, A&E Editor,
Queen's University - The Journal
Tuesday, September 9, 2003 - Issue 5, Volume 131

Ground Outline, aka “the big white frame.” Art is scary. It is very hard to fully appreciate the intricacies of the art world when your education on the subject matter revolves around Jon Arbuckle scolding Garfield for sending Nermal to Abu Dhabi.

Some of you may scoff at this, holding your heads high, secure in your knowledge of abstract expressionism and postimpressionist fauvism, but how many can confidently stare about campus at the various illogical structures dubbed "works of art" by a select few, and "donut on a pole" or "big white picture frame thing" by others?

Our campus houses a wide variety of highly original outdoor sculptures that have been the subject of confusion or indifference for years, but no longer. Over the next several weeks the Journal's Arts and Entertainment team will be exploring the under-appreciated outdoor sculptures, so that students no longer need refer to them by names like "the big orange triangle with a hole in it." One of the most revered of these sculptures is undoubtedly Ground Outline located on the front lawn of Theological Hall.

Constructed out of steel in 1978 by Canadian artist Peter Kolisnyk who hails from Peterborough, the white rectangular frame was originally installed at Harbourfront in Toronto. Passersby were able to stop and see Lake Ontario and the surrounding harbour through its frame. Ground Outline is a minimalist and conceptual sculpture, meant to bring a spectators attention to the world around them as opposed to the structure itself.

In 1981 Queen's University purchased the sculpture with funds from the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund and Wintario. The campus was extensively surveyed in order to find a suitable location that would best represent Kolisnyk's intent. The sloping lawn by Summerhill park proved to be ideal, and Ground Outline was erected much to the confusion of students for years to come.

Kolisnyk meant to put the landscape on stage when he constructed the sculpture, heightening the awareness of nature's presence through a framed perspective. Through its inherent simplicity, Ground Outline is undoubtedly one of the easiest of the outdoor sculptures to understand and appreciate.

Next time, we tackle "the donut on the pole."(LINK)

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