On Wednesday, March 18, Bekah Meyer’s string installation, By Touch, was severed and pieces were strewn through campus between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 10:00 a.m. Small torn pieces of string led to Jackson Hall. While the perpetrator remains unknown, the art department has alerted Jeff Hall, Academic Vice President, and Tad Mindeman, Director of Library Services, as well as campus security.
“Bekah knows we are on her team,” said Professor Jeffrey Morton, Art Department Chair.
By Touch was presented last night at the first Senior Art SIP show, “Already.” Meyer’s work, along with the work of seniors Beth Ann Fogal, Hannah LoRusso, Rachel Luther, and Hannah Taylor, opened to an enthusiastic crowd of friends, family, and community members. The other works stand in the library art gallery, while Meyer’s piece occupies the north stairwell of the library. Viewers had been invited to “use not just their eyes but their fingertips” on her cylindrical, knotted twine sculpture which fills the two-story stairwell. The opening last night was well-attended, and reactions to By Touch were overwhelmingly positive. Only this morning, as Meyer prepared for her oral SIP defense, did she realize that the installation had been cut and began untangling the cut pieces around the base.
“I really don’t know what happened,” said Meyer. “It was obvious when I untangled them that there was serious force taken to sever so many.” Meyer deliberately refrained from cutting strands in any of the 53 spools of cotton twine while creating By Touch, making these the first cuts on the piece.
As students gathered in the office of Assistant Professor of Art Dr. Elissa Weichbrodt to discuss their reactions, many were inclined towards anger, feeling misunderstood as artists. Weichbrodt reminded students that “it is more complicated to ask how the ways in which we choose to respond to invitations reflects on who we are.”
Meyer’s installation will remain hanging through April 10. Viewers are still invited to touch.
Updated 2:10 p.m., Fri March 20, 2015: After an investigation this morning conducted by library staff, it is clear that the vandalism took place between 11:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. In that time someone took a spool of string hanging from the bottom of the piece and wrapped it around the passageway of the stairwell, barring anyone from using the stairs. Later in the evening, a library student-worker was unable to untangle the string, and had to cut it to allow students to safely pass through. Campus security is currently investigating who blocked the stairwell.