Art in Embassies: Oslo Project

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Arctic Shift: Art in the Public Realm

In 2014, the United States Art in Embassies program entered into a partnership with Bennington College to design an outdoor, site-responsive sculpture for the new U.S. Embassy building in Oslo, Norway.

To realize the project, the college established a year-long curriculum titled "Art in the Public Realm." After studying various models of public art, a team of faculty, staff, and students focused their research on Norway itself, investigating topics ranging from the arts, anthropology, and environmental sciences to economics, politics and current events. 

The resulting proposal is comprised of a large-scale outdoor sculpture, surrounding plantings, and a selection of visual complexity graphics. By thinking about the shortest distance between the two countries––across the North Pole, from Alaska to northern Norway––the students decided to focus on the Arctic Circle and highlight the linkages and issues between the U.S., Norway, and the other six Arctic Council nations. The students researched topics such as sea level rise, oil and gas production, flight patterns, native populations, fisheries, flora, and fauna. Using complexity graphics, they generated maps of travel patterns over the Arctic, which helped inform the final design for the sculpture, which will be located near the entry of the new U.S. Embassy in Oslo.

Oslo flowers
National flowers of the Arctic Council to be planted in the gardens by the sculpture; graphic by Hannah Brookman '06
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