Pacific Puzzle Project
This project was a public art commision for my university. The six-foot by ten-foot puzzle is made up of eleven large wood pieces, depicting the mission of Pacific University:
“A diverse and sustainable community dedicated to discovery and excellence in teaching, scholarship and practice, Pacific University inspires students to think, care, create, and pursue justice in our world.”
The Pacific Puzzle went up piece by piece last month in the hub of Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. Its home is in the University Center, which contains the cafeteria, convenience store, mailroom, information center, Starbucks, and bookstore. This project started out as a proposal to the University Undergraduate Student Senate in December and took about a year for me to complete. My rigorous schedule of being a double major (Exercise Science and Studio Art), Student Athlete (Cross Country and Track), and Resident Assistant made it very challenging to fit in time to work on such a large-scale project, but nonetheless I found time to make my vision into a reality. I received a large budget for supplies, as well as a commission for completing the piece. The experience of designing and creating a public commission was very rewarding.
The six-foot by ten-foot puzzle is made up of eleven large wood pieces. A combination of airbrush and brushwork was used to depict the mission of Pacific University. The dominating figure of the puzzle is the Boxer, Pacific’s unique and historic mascot. The Boxer is a bronze Chinese statue that the University received from an alumnus as a gift in 1896. Today, the mascot continues to inspire students and community members to embrace the Boxer Spirit. On the center piece of my puzzle, a hand writes the Pacific University Mission: “A diverse and sustainable community dedicated to discovery and excellence in teaching, scholarship and practice, Pacific University inspires students to think, care, create, and pursue justice in our world.” The surrounding pieces reflect this mission statement. A piece devoted to the arts and one to science depict the liberal arts component of Pacific’s mission. Another piece represents Pacific’s twenty-four intercollegiate athletic teams, and on another a hand planting a seedling shows the university’s commitment to sustainability. Two hands of different skin tones clasp one another in friendship, representing justice and cooperation. On the last piece, a large outline of Oregon holds the state of Hawaii, showing Pacific’s strong connection to Hawaii. The bordering states as well as the United States and the globe represent the diverse student body coming from many different regions, cultures, and backgrounds. The pieces falling into place indicate that there is more to come. More elements of Pacific’s mission can be added over time.
The Pacific community is a diverse group of young adults and faculty that fit together to create a vibrant and unique culture. College is about discovering who we are as individuals and how we fit into a community: our friend-groups, fellow undergraduates, the town, and the world. These years are about making connections and deciding who to surround ourselves with. The puzzle, one of my long-time favorite art forms, is a great metaphor for the college experience.
My aim was to connect the pieces of Pacific's mission to show the whole puzzle that is the Pacific community. When current students, alumni, or prospective students look at these puzzle pieces, I want them to realize that they have, had, or will have a place to fit into at Pacific University.