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Hidden San Diego: "Fallen Star" Sculpture at UCSD

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Hidden San Diego:
Courtesy of the Stuart Collection
Hidden San Diego is a series of articles about cool and unique things we don't generally know about San Diego.

When it comes to public art in San Diego, nothing compares to the Stuart Collection at UCSD. Given the hit-and-miss quality of public art elsewhere around the county, the daring collection of 17 sculptures and pieces sprinkled throughout the La Jolla campus continues to push the boundaries of provocative art.

Just check out the now iconic piece, "Sun God," by Nikki de Saint Phalle, whose work graces a number of locations around the county. It has become embraced by the student population, often adorned with whimsical affectations.

Or consider the amazing and whimsical Bear Sculpture by Tim Hawkinson - if 180 tons of boulders can be considered whimsical. But indeed it is.

Do Ho Suh’s "Fallen Star" is the 18th permanent sculpture commissioned by UCSD’s Stuart Collection and it just might be the most spectacular piece. Suh’s small “home” has perhaps been picked up by some mysterious force and appears to have landed or crashed onto the seventh floor of Jacobs Hall at the Jacobs School of Engineering. The roof garden is part of his design and the whole creates a space with panoramic views for small groups to gather and readjust.

Fallen Star reflects Suh’s on-going exploration of themes around the idea of home, cultural displacement, the perception of our surroundings, and how one constructs a memory of a space. His own feelings of displacement when he arrived in the U.S. from Seoul, Korea in 1991 to study led him to measure spaces in order to establish relationships with his new surroundings. He had to physically and mentally readjust.

As Suh said in a U-T San Diego article: “Since I left home to come to the states, these (artworks) are all part of my quest to find out: What is the meaning of home? What is home? It’s a way to find the answers, through the projects. And each time I’m about to complete a project, I realize it was not the answer. So I move on to the other ones.”

Do Ho Suh graduated from Seoul National University. He received a BFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University. He represented Korea at the Venice Biennale in 2001. Suh has exhibited around the world and is represented in numerous museum collections. He lives and works in New York, London and Seoul.

After being impressed by one of Suh's exhibitions, Mary Beebe, the founding director of the Stuart Collection, asked Suh to submit a proposal to create something that would be a “real” house. And he welcomed the opportunity to work on campus.

The house was constructed on the ground and was then lifted to the top of the engineering building in the fall of 2011, although it was another six months to furnish the house and install the garden in the sky. The result is something that is both spectacular and disorienting. And completely worthy of its place in the Stuart Collection.

Funding has been made possible through private donations and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ program for Access to Artistic Excellence.

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