CMC campus enriched by colorful glass sculpture art installation

Qwalala, 2023.

Claremont McKenna College continues to enhance its campus with singular works of public art.

The latest addition: Qwalala, an intricate and colorful glass sculpture by multimedia visual artist Pae White, is ready for the new academic year.

Located in the mid-Quad area just south of Collins Dining Hall, Qwalala stands nearly eight feet at its highest point and is 250 feet long. The massive piece features two archways and is made up of more than 1,500 glass bricks—each weighing nearly 40 pounds and hand-forged by Italian artisans—in a palette of 26 colors.

Shaw Wagener ’81, a Trustee donor for the sculpture, marveled at Qwalala’s size and scope while on campus for a recent visit.

“It’s a beautiful sculpture, and I am thrilled at how well it fits the space,” he said. “I also love its playfulness, both in how the colors interact and how the wall meanders.”

The title of the work, Qwalala, is derived from the Pomo tribal word describing the path of the Gualala River on the northern coast of California. Like the river itself, Qwalala changes throughout the day and evening as light and shadows cast upon the clear and colored glass bricks. Qwalala’s special illumination in the evening—until midnight—also allows it to take on an entirely new appearance and dimension thanks to the swirling colors of the bricks activated by the light.

The sculpture is meant to be interactive—not only to view, but also to experience as a pathway, said White, who lives in Los Angeles and is a 1985 Scripps College alumna.

“I really like having viewers from many different locations—from on the ground, from a dorm window, from higher up, from a plane,” White said in CMC’s introductory announcement of Qwalala. “It’s a really ideal situation for an artwork.”

Qwalala is the seventh work in the College’s Public Art Program, supported by several members of the CMC Board of Trustees and representatives of the College’s Public Art Subcommittee to reflect the Program’s mission to enrich the cultural, intellectual, and scholarly life of CMC and the Claremont community. The Public Art Program also includes works by Chris Burden, Carol Bove, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeppe Hein, and Mary Weatherford.

Qwalala dedication ceremonies, including remarks from Pae White, will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20. The ceremony, in the mid-Quad area of the CMC campus, is free and open to the public.



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