How an ancient Japanese temple found its way into a modern-day sculpture garden
By Andrew GrieveAUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – An ancient Japanese shrine with a Hellenistic style carved into its walls has been transformed into a sculpture garden in Austin, Texas, by a group of students who hope to inspire a revival of the region’s ancient art and inspire students to think outside of the box.
The Art Garden for the Arts and Culture (AGCA) project began in the late 1800s when students at the University of Texas at Austin, in the Austin-Round Rock area, began looking for a place to host the annual festival that brought together the arts, music and culture from around the world.
“I remember going to the festival at my high school in the early 1980s and having the sense that it was something that was going to be a big deal,” said Robert Henson, the president of the Austin Art Gallery.
Henson has been working with the university since 2001 to preserve and restore a vast collection of works from the 19th and early 20th centuries, which are now being catalogued and donated to the museum.
“We have a collection that is a living history and a living tradition, and we just couldn’t possibly be doing that without our students,” Henson said.
Students at the AGCA began by making their own sculptures out of recycled parts of a tree trunk and a stone from a wall, then added a new piece of wood to the end and put it on the base of the tree to create a piece that looks like an owl with its head facing east, the shape of which is a reference to the constellation Pegasus.
The students’ effort, which began last fall and is in its second year, is being supported by an anonymous donor who is also the head of the University’s Art Gallery, where the project is being staged.
“It was a lot of hard work,” Hinton said of the process of finding a suitable location for the sculpture garden.
The sculpture garden was initially meant to be on the edge of the university campus, but was moved when the students realized it would be too expensive.
“Our students were so excited, they wanted to do this,” Hentsons said.
The AGCA has been a major source of inspiration for the museum, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
The garden is home to dozens of works, including the work of Japanese artist and artist of ancient and modern times, Yoshiko Okubo, and works by artists such as Ai Weiwei and René Magritte.
The students plan to create art exhibitions and workshops to encourage students to explore the art world, and the students are seeking donations for their project.
“There is something magical about the experience of a young person looking at a piece of art and feeling that it’s not just something they can pick up and just put in a box,” Hensons said, adding that he hopes the students’ efforts will help bring back a sense of wonder and beauty to the arts.
“As we look back on this project, we want to say to young people, ‘If you want to become an artist, if you want a career, you have to do something you know is valuable to the community.'”(Reporting by Andrew Grie in Austin and Sarah Rumpf in San Francisco; Editing by Susan Heavey and David Gregorio)