California State University, Northridge’s Oasis Wellness Center has become a touchstone for students to rejuvenate, and it continues to look at ways it can improve the experience of all who take advantage of its resources. The Center is being recognized by off-campus organizations for its design and landscape, and now its grounds are being accented with artistic works created by talented students.
The Oasis Wellness Center received the Honor Award in the “Institutional Design” category at the American Society of Landscape Architect’s Southern California Chapter, ‘Quality of Life’ Awards Banquet on Oct. 6.
“It is indeed an honor for the Wellness Center and CSUN to receive this award,” said Debra Hammond, executive director of the University Student Union (USU). “Recognition by LPA’s peers speaks volumes about their ability to truly design a series of outdoor rooms that honor the natural environment, are truly beautiful and help our students to relax, revive and succeed.”
In addition to the high honor that the Wellness Center received, public art students were honored for their site-specific artistic work at the Oasis Wellness Center Art Reception, also on Oct. 6.
A reception hosted by the CSUN USU honored a group of students for their hard work bringing new art to the Oasis Wellness Center.
“I think it’s great,” said art major Justin Kim. “[CSUN is] supporting their students and investing in their students.”
Art students collaborated with the CSUN USU to create three pieces over the course of two full semesters. The first semester, in fall 2015, allowed students to create proposals and learn about grants and how to apply what they learned about public art pieces. The students also created models and shared them through group presentations. During the second semester, in spring 2016, students began crafting the final sculptures.
Unwind, one of the works created by the students, was installed near the fireplace. Another, Wonderwall, was installed near the center’s entrance. The final piece consisted of wooden pillars with books encouraging CSUN students to stop and reflect, which were installed throughout the grounds. The theme of health and wellness played an integral role in all three pieces.
The students had a hard time selecting one art piece from the three proposals, so they chose to work on all three, said Edward Alfano, chair of the art department.
“It’s important to have a place like this to embrace the arts, so you can enjoy it and learn from it,” Alfano said.
Public arts professor Kari Reardon noted that the project was a unique opportunity for students.
“Within the university, it’s rare that students can use the campus as a canvas to showcase their talents and creativity,” Reardon said. “Not only can that highlight and set CSUN apart from other universities, but I also think it can inspire future students and generations.”
Smaller versions of the students’ models were available for viewing at the art reception, along with the original proposals.
“They worked so hard,” Reardon said. “You can see through their proposals how they fabricated [the pieces] into the real deal.”
The course was interdisciplinary, with students from a variety of majors enrolled. According to Reardon, it was challenging — and exciting — to have participants from so many different backgrounds collaborating on such a huge project.
“We all would like to thank the USU for the opportunity to learn so much,” said contributing artist and public art student Trevor Curran. “It’s unbelievable how much we were able to learn in two semesters about the application of public art, and the joy of reaching the conclusion of several successful art pieces.”
The students also noted that they relied upon support from the USU maintenance staff for structural help with the art installations.
“We believe [art] is an integral part of our community as Matadors,” said Donald “Avi” Stewart, vice chair of USU Board of Directors. “Art gives wings to the soul and life to the heart.”