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Hidden Explanations Behind The UCLA Sculpture Garden Pieces

Every day, dozens of angsty north-campus students flock to the elusive utopia, known as “Sculpture Garden.” Their vintage-ridden bodies sprawl on the grass, surrounding the sculptures. Although art is inherently ambiguous, these sculptures are not. Each possesses an indisputable concreteness, and we think it is time for the student body to understand them. Here are the unarguable meanings behind four of the sculptures that should be taken unquestionably as fact.

4.) “Encounter VIII” by Lynn Chadwick:

This sculpture is a beautiful depiction of two adolescent praying mantises touching bellies, a popular courting ritual between rival praying mantis’ tribes to promote inter-tribe peace. The praying mantis on the left has more horizontal lines, symbolizing its superior standing within its tribe. The artist perfectly captured the exact moment in which the two respective tribes set aside their differences to support this blooming praying mantis couple, an important message that humans could take.

3.) “Bird” by Travis VanderZanden:

A symbolic representation of modern society’s tendency toward indolence, this sculpture has been steadily gaining more traction among UCLA students. Its monochromacy communicates the black-and-white nature of students’ perception of distance. A walk longer than five minutes has been deemed too far to walk and now warrants a vehicle.

The name “Bird,” showcased on the side of the sculpture, points to the ironic contrast between the grace of birds and the clumsy ineptitude of those who ride Bird scooters. The sculpture is in the middle of the sidewalk to commemorate the haunting week in which UCPD issued hundreds of tickets to students who failed to ride these scooters on government-mandated streets. It also serves as a reminder to students that campus is really just not that far.

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2.) “The Song Of The Vowels” by Jacques Lipchitz:

This sculpture is a literal representation of a two-headed Siamese twin angel mid-flight. Facing the viewer are angels with two conjoined torsos. Looking closer, two more heads above the original heads become visible. Behind them stretch two beautiful wings, revealing their angelic nature. This piece calls to question humanity’s preconceived notions about angels. It entices the viewer to re-evaluate his or her own conception of human beauty.

1.) “La Chambre A Coucher De L’Empereur” by Reuben Nakian:

“La Chambre A Coucher De L’Empereur” can be roughly translated to “Amputee Horse Headbutting A Precariously Situated Rock Formation,” calling attention to the dangers of precariously situated rock formations. Clearly, one more forceful blow by the amputee horse will knock the rocks down, inducing a rock avalanche that could wipe out a small city.

Some scholars suggest that the vehemence in which the horse strikes the rocks is indicative of its personal vendetta against them, possibly because the horse’s child died via precarious rock formation. The hole through the horse’s torso symbolizes the gaping void said child left post-mortem.


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