As thousands of students bustled to their classes on Feb. 22, California State University, Northridge officials unveiled a striking new landmark outside Bookstein Hall, home of the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics. The inspiring marble sculpture, Unbound, stands at the crossroads between the business college, the Education Building and the always-busy Arbor Grill dining complex.
At 4 tons and approximately 15 feet high, it’s hard to miss.
Artist Soraya Sarah Nazarian, an internationally recognized sculptor and proud parent of the business college’s namesake, David ’82 (Business Administration), stood with CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison and pushed the button that dropped a bright red curtain to reveal the sculpture to a crowd of about 150 family members, friends and dignitaries.
Nazarian’s sculptures have been commissioned by institutions including Milken Community Schools’ Saperstein Middle School campus in Los Angeles, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and University of Haifa, Israel. Unbound is her first artwork for CSUN.
“I am so happy that I can share my art with the students,” she told the crowd at the unveiling. “They are the future — of their families, their community and the United States. This is the best way I can express to them that through education, they can learn about themselves and prepare for the future.”
Unbound is made up of six stacked marble blocks of varying shapes and colors. The diversity of the stone reflects the diversity of CSUN’s students, Nazarian noted.
“In her sculpture, Soraya Sarah Nazarian celebrates the limitless potential available to all those who seek learning. The elongated base of various textures and shapes suggests the building blocks of a holistic education, symbolized by the outstretched arm and open book, which crowns the piece,” reads the description on the plaque next to the sculpture. “Located at a pivotal nexus of campus life, Unbound serves as a reminder to cherish and savor our time in these halls of learning.”
Harrison thanked Mrs. Nazarian for sharing the majestic sculpture with the CSUN community and future generations of students.
“Public art uplifts and inspires, and Unbound is sure to become one of the treasured features of our campus,” Harrison said. “The sculpture celebrates the limitless potential available to all those who seek learning. CSUN is the perfect setting for this new piece of art.”
Harrison also thanked the entire Nazarian family for their involvement with and impact on the university, particularly David Nazarian, who sparked his parents’ involvement with CSUN with a transformative gift to the business college in 2014. David Nazarian also stepped to the podium before the sculpture’s unveiling to thank his parents and praise his mother’s art.
“Other than education, my family values are art and artistic expression. This has been my mother’s passion, and she is a master sculptor,” he said. “I want to thank my mom personally for giving the most special gift — the gift of her time and talent — to the school that bears my name. Thank you, Mom.
“Like everything that my mom does, she made this piece with a great deal of thought and love,” he continued. “It brings me great pride and joy to share my mom’s gift with the entire CSUN community.”
Robert Gunsalus, vice president for University Advancement and president of the CSUN Foundation, welcomed Soraya Sarah Nazarian and her husband, Younes, and their children David, Sharon, Shula and Sam to the celebration.
“The Nazarian family reminds us of the virtues of service, community stewardship and philanthropy,” Gunsalus said. “We are very grateful that generations of CSUN students will be the beneficiaries of their support, their advice, their mentorship and now, their art.”
Nancy Berman, a longtime collaborator of Soraya Sarah Nazarian and a prominent Southern California arts leader, spoke eloquently about the sculpture, its meaning and potential impact on the campus.
“This is an inviting and uplifting sculpture whose rough and polished stones loudly proclaim the value of education for us all,” Berman said. “Unbound is a strong, bold presence, and it is beautifully situated in this campus environment — an appropriate place for an artwork, which asks questions and provokes conversations.”
While her husband has built businesses, Nazarian has pursued her passion for art for more than three decades, establishing her own studio in LA. She is a master in the medium of direct carving in stone. Her work carries themes of motherhood, family, spirituality and Iranian culture. Nazarian uses marble from the renowned quarry in Pietrasanta, Italy, a city whose quarries were made famous by the Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo.
Of the brand-new sculpture gracing CSUN’s campus, President Harrison said: “The message of Unbound — that learning is the path to achieving one’s dreams — will be an ongoing inspiration for our students, faculty, alumni and community for years to come.”
For more information on Soraya Sarah Nazarian’s artwork, visit http://sorayasarahnazarian.com/.