(Posted December 6, 2021)

Juniata Peace Arch

Photo by Haldan Kirsch

Juniata Peace Arch

Photo by Haldan Kirsch

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — A graceful sculpture designed to amalgamate the strength and flexibility of stainless steel, the reflective and prismatic qualities of dichroic glass, and the natural light and environs surrounding Kepple Hall was commissioned by Thomas R. Kepple, Juniata College president emeritus, and his wife, Pat, to honor John Dale and his wife, the late Irene (Miller) Dale.

The Juniata Peace Arch, created and installed by artist Nicole Beck following a nationwide call for artist submissions in 2019, was named both for Mrs. Dale, as the meaning of the name Irene is “peace” and as a nod to the Peace Chapel designed by architect Maya Lin in 1988.

“The design of the building always had the idea of an outdoor sculpture roughly in the location we ultimately selected. It is on the axis of the walk through the Cloister and on to von Liebig (Center for Science),” says Thomas Kepple. “In general, we thought we needed more outdoor sculpture on campus, especially near the art building. I like the wonderful, always-changing colors in the sculpture as the sun passes by. It’s a fun piece and I assume many pictures of it and our students will happen through the years.”

Working with Kathryn Blake, Director of the Juniata College Museum of Art, a committee of faculty, staff, and students, was formed to review the 52 submissions received.

“We went through several rounds of review. The progressive whittling down brought us to three final possibilities,” says Blake. “We then commissioned those three artists to submit fuller proposals. From there, we selected Nicole Beck’s artwork.”

Considerations for selection extended beyond the artwork itself. Logistics such as transporting the piece to the site, site preparation, the mechanics of installation, and an ongoing maintenance plan needed to be vetted. Beck, the artist behind several public art installations in the Chicago, Illinois, area, worked with Tim Launtz, director of public safety, to find a transport route devoid of low underpasses.

In imagining the site-specific work, Beck researched Juniata College, the campus’ existing art installations, and Kepple Hall.

“I was very struck by the dynamic of the work of the school. It seemed like a nice fit for me,” says Beck. “I loved the idea of being able to look through it and to congregate by it. It is a lovely and perfect site for a sculpture.”

A concrete pad was poured to provide a blank canvas on which to place the Peace Arch.

“Placing a commissioned site-specific sculpture is a collaborative venture in that we form the idea of it together. Juniata did something that hadn’t been done at my other sites, they poured a concrete pad, where the colors and shadows cast from the piece are magnificent,” Beck says. “That was all accomplished before I got on site. I was excited and happy that Juniata would collaborate with me on that aspect. It was a joy working with Juniata.”

The completed, arching sculpture incorporates a variety of shapes and colors, all contained within a matrix of interconnected curves and lines.

“The color aspect of the dichroic glass changes depending on where you are standing, and the shape of the sculpture echoes the Cloister Arch, which is part of the sightline,” Blake says. “Abstract elements of art, science, and mathematics are brought together by light. The multidisciplinary concept was part of our original request, representing Juniata’s dedication to an interdisciplinary approach to education.”

An official dedication of the Juniata Peace Arch is planned for April 2022.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.