University Planning

University Planning

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Ground Outline

  • Artist: Peter Kolisnyk (Canadian, b. 1934)
  • Year: 1978
  • Material: Steel
  • Purchase information: Purchased with funds from the Chancellor Richardson Memorial Fund and Wintario, 1981
  • Location: On the front lawn of Theological Hall
  • Number on sculpture tour map: 6

outdoor sculpture

Peter Kolisnyk's minimalist and conceptual sculpture explores the processes of representation and perception. The goal of Ground Outline is to bring our attention to the surrounding environment rather than to the object itself.

This piece was originally installed at Harbourfront in Toronto, where viewers were able to catch a glimpse of Lake Ontario and the surrounding harbour through its frame. Queen's campus was surveyed extensively to find a location that did justice to the sculpture: the sweeping slope in Summerhill park is a dramatic setting. By providing a frame through which one can view the landscape, Ground Outline puts the landscape on stage and heightens awareness of our presence in it.

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"The Big White Frame"

By David Missio

Understanding outdoor sculpture on campus:

This article was published in the Queen's Journal on Tuesday September 9, 2003 (Issue 5, Volume 131)

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.