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Timber Wave
October 18, 2017
3 mins read

Hidden in Plain Sight: A place of learning

Hidden in Plain Sight

Being a student in 2017 is complicated. We’re always hearing about how the economy and the job market have been destroyed.

It’s rare that I tell someone what I’m studying (English) and receive any response other than, “So... what will you do with that?”

While there’s obviously no harm in a practical degree - shout out to everybody freaking out over the LSAT right now! - I think it’s valuable to learn for the sake of learning.

UBC has 25 different faculties and schools, each of which teaches a huge range of topics from molecular biology, to forest resources management, to art history, to speech sciences. This amazing diversity is reflected in the type of public art that UBC chooses to feature on campus.

Untitled (Symbols and Forms of Education) by Lionel and Patricia Thomas

Untitled (Symbols and Forms of Education)

I’ve always really liked Symbols and Forms of Education. Every time I go to Great Dane for my mid-afternoon caffeine boost (which is a lot), I admire the piece’s colourful mosaic tiles on the exterior of the Brock Hall Annex entrance.

The mural was commissioned by the Class of 1958 to represent the diversity of UBC’s educational community. Each of the 54 tiles represents a different UBC faculty or department. For example, the medical school is represented by a tile on the far left with an image of a stethoscope, while Sauder appears on the right as a pie chart with a dollar sign. As a whole, the mural reflects the complexity of the pursuit of knowledge, in all its forms.

Millennial Time Machine by Rodney Graham

You’ve probably seen this one before - it’s hard not to notice a giant 19th century horse carriage in the middle of a 21st century university.

Millennial Time Machine

Millennial Time Machine, which is protected in a glass-and-concrete pavilion between Koerner and IKB, is actually a camera obscura. Camera obscuras capture images and project them reversed and upside down. Fittingly, this lens is pointed at a sequoia tree, one of the tallest and longest-living tree species in the world. At one of the most well-respected universities in Canada, the sequoia symbolizes the long legacy that UBC has in front of it, and its past.

The cool thing about Millennial Time Machine is that it brings up questions about traditional and new, abstract thought. Those topics are important for the university and can lead people down a path of inquiry:

  • How does knowledge get passed on through generations?

  • How will the university change as the sequoia tree continues to grow?

  • How can we encourage students to learn from the past to change their perspective on the future?

If you want to get up close and personal with Millennial Time Machine, you can contact belkin.gallery@ubc.ca (or just stop by the gallery!) for an appointment.

Timber Wave

The Timber Wave wooden sculpture near Main Mall and University Boulevard

No artwork on campus quite represents the process and beauty of learning quite like Timber Wave, which has just been installed next to the Martha Piper Fountain at Main Mall and University Blvd.

The sculpture is a project by the SEEDS Sustainability Program, where UBC students, faculty, and staff collaborate to work on innovative, sustainable projects to address community needs and generate new ideas.

Faculty members offered the workshop to teach students and industry professionals how to use a robotic arm to cut wood into interesting and unique shapes.

Timber Wave was the result of the workshop and is the creation of the participants. The project is intended to demonstrate the power of technology and the potential of wood as a sustainable building material while adding something interesting and beautiful to UBC’s campus.

Projects like Timber Wave, which use UBC’s beautiful grounds and creative minds to start conversations about important issues, are a perfect symbol of the potential of learning communities.

As students here, we are lucky to be part of something that connects different skills, interests, and ways of thinking and learning.