Site-Specific Installation Continues New School Tradition of Commissioning New Work for its Collection, from José Clemente Orozco to Kara Walker, Sol LeWitt, and Martin Puryear

Threshold by Brian Tolle

NEW YORK, January 30, 2007—The New School today unveiled a new commission by acclaimed artist and Parsons alumnus Brian Tolle. Threshold is a site-specific work installed in the Dorothy H. Hirshon Suite in Arnhold Hall, a meeting room for university receptions with visiting dignitaries. Tolle blends history, architecture, and technology to breathe life into the space by simulating movement passing within the exposed architecture of the walls.

“The Hirshon Suite is an intimate place where we bring together students, faculty, and special guests with leading opinion makers in the areas of art and design, social sciences, and politics for lively conversations about some of the most pressing issues facing the world today,” said New School President Bob Kerrey. “Threshold makes physical the impact and power that words uttered within these walls have on the intellectual life beyond this space.”

Consisting of two fiberglass panels set into one of the walls, the piece was created using simulation technology to predict how the wall would behave if it were pliable. As it pulls both toward and away from the wall’s flat surface, it provides a constant reassessment and interplay of readings suggesting archeological layering, memory, history, and the passage of time. The wall and what lies behind it are frozen in a moment of drawing back and pushing forward, as though holding and releasing its breath, rendering the room itself a character in the conversations taking place within it. 

Tolle, whose work includes the Irish Hunger Memorial in Battery Park City, New York (2002), is currently creating public art installations for the Washington State Arts Commission in Seattle and the City of Miami Beach for Collins Park and the General Services Administration for a new federal courthouse in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Throughout his career, Brian Tolle has engaged the public in works that draw on memory and perception,” said Beth Rudin DeWoody, New School trustee and chair of the Committee for the University Art Collection. “Combining history with the latest production techniques, his striking and subtle works provoke viewers to reexamine their surroundings, crossing the line between fiction and reality.”

Threshold was commissioned as part of a renewed commitment by the university to support the creation of new art for its campus. This tradition began in 1930 with the opening of the university’s landmark building at 66 West 12th Street, designed by Joseph Urban, which houses the university’s first art commission, a famed mural cycle by Mexican artist José Clemente Orozco. Recent commissions include works by artists Kara Walker (Event Horizon, 2005), Sol LeWitt (Wall Drawing No. 1073, Bars of Color, 2004), Dave Muller (Interpolations and Extrapolations, 2002–03), and Martin Puryear (Untitled, Vera List Courtyard, 1997).

Brian Tolle has exhibited his work in galleries, museums, and public spaces around the world. In addition to the Irish Hunger Memorial and Threshold, his work includes Waylay (Liverpool Biennial, 2006), Skid Rows with Diana Balmori (Down the Garden Path, Queens Museum of Art, 2005), For the Gentle Wind Doth Move Silently Invisibly  (Cleveland Public Art, 2005), WitchCatcher (City Hall Park, New York, 2003), Man’s Achievement on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe (Crossing the Line, Queens Museum of Art, 2001) and Over the Edges: The Corners of Gent (Stedelijk Museum, Ghent, Belgium, 2000). Tolle received his MFA in Fine Arts from Yale University and a BFA in Fine Arts from Parsons The New School for Design, where he is currently on the graduate faculty.

The New School Art Collection embodies the legacy of The New School’s historic involvement with the avant-garde in the arts. The collection numbers approximately 1,800 works in various media by emerging and established contemporary artists with an emphasis on works that endeavor to explore the aesthetic and cultural concerns of our times. For more information on the New School Art Collection, please contact Silvia Rocciolo and Eric Stark, curators, 212.229.8947 x3770.

The New School

Located in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village, The New School is a center of academic excellence where intellectual and artistic freedoms thrive. The 8,700 matriculated students and more than 5,900 continuing education students who attend the university’s eight schools enjoy a disciplined education supported by small class sizes, superior resources, and renowned working faculty members who practice what they teach. Artists, scholars, and students from all walks of life attend its diverse programs and can earn everything from program certificates to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. When The New School was founded in 1919, its mission was to create a place where global peace and justice were more than theoretical ideals. New School students participate in programs that to this day strive for academic excellence, technical mastery, and engaged world citizenship.

The eight schools that make up The New School are: The New School for General Studies, The New School for Social Research, Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, Parsons The New School for Design, Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts, Mannes College The New School for Music, The New School for Drama, and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.

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