Campus Arts Initiative A University Strategic Plan Seed Grant Project

The Campus Arts Initiative (“Campus Arts”) is funded by Penn State’s Strategic Planning Seed Grant program, which funds projects that further the university’s goals for impact and engagement. Campus Arts is closely linked to the strategic plan’s thematic priority of advancing the arts and humanities.

Campus Arts has commissioned eight site-specific visual artworks for high-impact locations across the Commonwealth Campuses between 2019-2020. University partners were selected from an open call for applications advertised to the Penn State community. Following a nationally advertised call for artists, artists were selected by a jury of partner collaborators and ­­­arts professionals both external and internal to the university, and each partner was matched with an artist or artist team.

Artworks were installed late 2019 with the College of Engineering to be installed in 2020. The works will remain on view for up to one year.

Data Decision Trees

David Buckley Borden

Location: Penn State Abington Campus

Data Decision Trees ıs a temporary public art installation by artist David Buckley Borden that presents the Penn State Abington community with a three-dimensional visualization of ecological conditions relative to ongoing climate change. This educational sculpture combines art, environmental design, and ecological data based on input from the campus community and the student body in particular. Selected data articulates environmental degradation, remediation, and challenges—past, present, and future. The community-driven Data Decision Trees project is ultimately an appeal to students to take an active role in the stewardship of their natural resources.

Emotional Landscape

John Peña

Location: Penn State Beaver Campus

In collaboration with students, staff, and faculty at Penn State Beaver, John Peña created an interactive artwork, Emotional Landscape, installed centrally on campus with the primary goal of visualizing the interior emotional states of the campus community. The work is a “forest” of about 70 temporary metal vertical uprights that are secured to the ground. Atop each upright is a colorful disc that can be easily removed and reattached. Each disc is painted a color that corresponds to a specific mood or feeling. Participants are invited to reflect on their current mood and place a disc on top of one of the uprights that best represents that mood. Over the course of the project, the color field will constantly change to reveal the previously invisible internal lives of the campus community.


Lauren Herzak Bauman

Location: Penn State Behrend Campus

Ohio-based sculptor and ceramic artist Lauren Herzak-Bauman collaborated with students at Penn State Behrend’s state-of-the-art plastics manufacturing laboratory in fall 2019. Herzak-Bauman designed and created a new sculptural work for the campus titled Colorwalk. It is a site-specific installation made from thousands of plastic discs fabricated at Behrend’s plastics fabrication lab. These discs stack together to make colorful vertical bars that meander through a tree line on the Penn State Behrend campus.

Spotted Lanternfly Zones of Syncopation (SFZ)

Elsabé Dixon

Location: Penn State Lehigh Valley Campus (main entrance lobby)

The Penn State Lehigh Valley committee selected artist Elsabé Dixon who began working with entomologists at Penn State Lehigh Valley to explore issues related to the invasive Spotted Lanternfly last fall. Dixon created an installation that asks for viewer engagement surrounding issues of this invasive species. With this project, Spotted Lanternfly Zones of Syncopation (SFZ), the campus community collaborated actively with partners within the Lehigh Valley region. You can follow this project on Instagram @spottedlanternflyzones.

Extended Sunset

Adam Frelin

Location: Eisenhower Auditorium, University Park (This piece illuminates every evening at sunset and remains on until 7 a.m. daily through October 2020.)

The Center for the Performing Arts (CPA) worked with Adam Frelin to develop a public artwork for Eisenhower Auditorium at University Park. Extended Sunset consists of a photograph of a particularly dramatic Pennsylvania sunset installed into the six large windows of Eisenhower Auditorium. The image in each window is backlit by LED lights that are controlled by an astronomical timer. At the exact moment that actual sunset begins, the lights in the windows will begin to illuminate. As actual sunset wanes, Extended Sunset will brighten every day.

Something Means Something Else

Tamara Gayer

Location: HUB-Robeson Center, Lower Level within the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Something Means Something Else, created by Tamara Gayer, is part of the new home of the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity. The three-part mural employs the many faces of abstraction (pattern, color, symbol, light) to present the intricacies of the current moment in sexual and gender identity. Taking the contemporary abundance of gender symbols and the overlapping color schemes of numerous pride flags, Something Means Something Else weaves itself into and around the Center and its surroundings.

Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity


Encoded Objects: Michael Hadley and Jonathan Rockford

Macroscope is a merging of Penn State Materials Research Institute’s (MRI) work with Encoded Objects’ creative practice. Echoing the close analysis and synthesis that MRI practices within the walls of its building, the digital video piece inverts the direction of analysis and transforms the building into a “macroscope” that visualizes the MRI community. It reveals an unfamiliar view of a familiar space through seeing it at a different temporal scale, echoing how many of MRI’s techniques reveal hidden features. Over the course of the entire year as the piece continues to evolve, no two digital crystals will ever be the same.

For more images and information about Campus Arts projects and fall 2020 symposium visit our website


Photography by Amir Aghareb, Hub Wilson, Ivette Spradlin and Penn State.