'80s Rock

Katharine Reece MFA ’12



CIRCA 1987

'80s Rock

For many years, the boulder outside Reisinger frustrated students who felt compelled to sit on it. They would get a running start to try—and generally fail—to leap atop it.

Then George Trakas came along. The landscape artist had been commissioned by the Sarah Lawrence College Art Gallery (since closed) to build an outdoor installation piece as part of an exhibition in spring 1985. He was drawn to the boulder, framed by a pine tree, stark in the middle of the South Lawn. When students told him about their failed attempts to surmount the rock, he was inspired to make it more accessible and integrated with its surroundings.

Trakas, who uses his art to pay homage to the earth, grew up in Quebec and studied both art and geology in college. He has a particular affinity for the enormous stones littered across the northeast states. At SLC he created Rock Pine Station, a multitiered structure with a narrow staircase facing Westlands. “The staircase is 10 inches wide,” Trakas says, “which is the average distance between the iliac crests of a human’s pelvis, making it a sort of dance to walk up.” The structure is also perfect for observing the moon, he notes.

Most of the other pieces were removed at the end of the exhibition, including a long piece of patinaed copper attached to the arbor, reflecting the sunshine in dapples, and a wall-sized, slack piece of canvas depicting a starry night sky, which hung in the art gallery in Reisinger. Trakas didn’t intend for Rock Pine Station to last more than a few years, but it persists as an integral piece of architecture on campus. The wooden platforms were updated last summer, ensuring that students can enjoy their perch upon that boulder for years to come.

Photo by Lada Lysniak ’89, courtesy of the SLC Archives