Last Thursday, a group of seven Harvard freshmen gathered in the Science Center to take a second look at the art that surrounds them on campus.
“I walk by this every day,” said one student, referring to a “sandscape” mural, Olivetti Showroom Wall Relief (1954), by artist Costantino Nivola. The work runs the length and height of a large hallway in the Science Center. “But I’ve never really looked at it.”
The Through the Gates: Art on Campus walking tour was led by Francesca Bewer, research curator for Conservation and Technical Studies Programs at the Harvard Art Museums. Bewer handed out large sketchpads and pencils to the students, encouraging them to spend a few minutes drawing the art before discussing it.
Students walked the length of the hallway, observing geometric patterns, pointing out small raised handprints, and examining shells that seemed to emerge from the artwork.
Coordinated through the Freshman Dean’s Office, the Through the Gates program helps first-year students become better acquainted with Cambridge and Boston, and offers them a chance to interact with faculty, staff, peers, and community members.
Bewer said she learns a great deal from her students’ questions and observations. “This is a welcome opportunity for us not only to explore who made these sculptures, but also to look at them closely and consider by what processes they were made,” she said. “It is especially important to contemplate sculptures from different angles. I myself only noticed during this tour how colored highlights in the Nivola sculpture appear and disappear, depending on where the viewer is standing.”