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Aerial view of campus on the edge of the ocean
March 11, 2022
2 mins read

Hidden in Plain Sight: The value of optimism

Hidden in Plain Sight

We all begin every semester as optimists. There’s something about new school supplies, new classrooms, and a freshly printed syllabus that just fills a heart with hope.

Unfortunately, as the semester goes on, it gets harder and harder to hold on to that enthusiasm. Those new pencils run out of lead and that syllabus is now crumpled at the bottom of your backpack under a textbook or two. The avalanche of school work that comes around midterm season can lead to some pretty low morale.

That said, the university environment is inherently hopeful. UBC is a hub of learning and creativity, which is part of the reason we all came here in the first place. Remembering why you started something is a great way to motivate yourself to finish it. Staying positive and keeping that bigger picture in mind is key to a successful university experience, and it’s something that comes through in the art on our campus! Let’s channel that artistic optimism and talk about some pieces that pump up the positivity.

Tuning Fork by Gerhard Class

Tuning Fork sculpture on the UBC campus

You may recognize Tuning Fork as the giant curvy thing in the middle of the fine arts plaza. It’s definitely eye-catching, and that’s no mistake: The artist wanted the sculpture to be “a giant tuning fork large enough to have served Pythagoras and his theory of music and the harmony of the spheres”.

The sculpture, which consists of two freestanding pieces of Corden steel that twist around one another, represents collaboration and harmony (no pun intended). The pieces stand independently, but neither would be complete without the other. A tuning fork is a tool that resonates at a constant pitch when you hit it, allowing musicians to ensure their instruments are in tune. The piece as a whole, then, represents creativity and balance, which are two things that we all definitely need right now.

Transcendence by Jack Harman

Transcendance sculpture on UBC campus

Transcendence happens to be my favourite piece of art on this whole campus. The sculpture’s four female figures hover above the fountain in front of the Thea Koerner Graduate Student Centre. Looking at it always makes me feel happy and hopeful.

The fountain’s water, along with the curved shape and raised arms of the figures, give the sculpture a sense of upward movement. I think of it as an invitation to look beyond, rise above, and move forward (in other words, to transcend). Like Tuning Fork, this work is also dependent on equilibrium; the four figures each facing in one of the cardinal directions is a reminder of the balance and direction necessary to achieve goals.

So maybe it’s time to take a page out of these artists’ books. Take some time to revel in the buzz of creativity and opportunity here at UBC. Try to recapture the enthusiasm you had at the beginning of the term by remembering why you came here in the first place and why all this work is totally worth it. Oh, and buy some new pencils while you’re at it.