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Southwestern Oregon Community College will unveil a life-sized sculpture of Albert Einstein at our Health & Science Building, Umpqua Hall, on the Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay) on Tuesday, May 28, 2024. The event will occur at 12:00 noon on the first floor, near the lecture hall, room 184.

A procession of students and staff will walk across campus carefully wheeling the sculpture from Eden Hall to Umpqua Hall delivering it to the reception site, leaving Eden Hall at 11:40 am. Upon its arrival at Umpqua Hall the sculpture will be welcomed with brief comments from the college president, the artist, and others. To access Umpqua Hall use parking lot #1.

The sculpture, titled “My Friend Albert” was created by artist Kathleen Zappelli, a resident of Coquille, OR. Ms. Zappelli graduated from the University of Oregon in 1999, and this piece was part of a capstone project for her Bachelor of Fine Art degree. The life-sized, full-length portrait of a standing, laughing Albert Einstein is made of stoneware clay about an inch thick and weighs about 400 lbs. Ms. Zappelli is currently a board member of the Coos Art Museum.

The sculpture was donated to Southwestern last year. Since then, Art Professor James Fritz designed and fabricated a base to secure the sculpture for public display and looked for the best place to exhibit it. Physics Professor Aaron Coyner immediately wanted it for display in Umpqua Hall, preferably near the Physics Lab.

The sculpture is titled “My Friend Albert” because of its whimsical approachability. It breaks down the barrier that often stands in the way of our understanding of a “genius” figure like Einstein. He was one of the great physicists of the early 20th century whose theories paved the way for research into atomic fission, modern cosmology, and understanding of the universe.

Ms. Zappelli’s sensitive rendering of Einstein as a laughing professor in a suit-and-tie highlights the great man’s humanity and genial nature. The sculpture had been on public display for 20 years at the Oregon State University Extension Office in Myrtle Point. Concerned that it was not quite the right fit for the Extension Office and looking for a more appropriate home, the Extension Office and Ms. Zappelli made the donation and transfer to the Southwestern Art Department.

The College gladly accepted the donation and planned this public event to unveil the sculpture in its new home in Umpqua Hall. Part of the unveiling is “A walk across campus with Albert Einstein” with college faculty, staff, and students. This will be a light-hearted experience for all to walk across campus with the most famous college physics professor of the 20th Century.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the public to help welcome this sculpture donation and celebrate our STEAM programs (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Mathematics) at Southwestern. For more information contact James Fritz, 541-888-7322 or jfritz@socc.edu.

 

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