A dedication ceremony for "The Lift Tower," a public art project installation designed by Montana State University graduate Rob Rodgers while he was a student, is set for 4 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12 on the front lawn of the MSU School of Art in Haynes Hall. The dedication will be followed by a reception in the Helen E. Copeland Gallery on the second floor of Haynes Hall.
The project, more than two years in the planning, is the first student sculpture to be installed on campus since 1978, when Jeff Boshart’s "Arc Flight" was installed, also in front of Haynes Hall.
Rodgers' design was inspired by a student competition for a public art work that was the brainchild of Vaughan Judge, director of the MSU School of Art whose own area of interest is public art. Judge conceived of the competition as a collaboration of the MSU School of Art, Bridger Bowl Ski Area, Chamberlin Productions and the Downtown Bozeman Partnership. The competition asked the question: "What would you do with a ski lift tower that had to function as seating, offer an aesthetic and be related in some way to the Bridger Bowl Ski Area and its commitment to the environment?" The collaboration involved MSU faculty, staff, students as well as alumni and interested community supporters from the sponsoring organizations.
“My interest is in public art,” said Vaughn Judge, director of the MSU School of Art. “So I was looking for a collaborative project that would bring together the community and the campus.”
A snowboarders and skier, Rodgers designed the sculpture, incorporating parts of chairs from the Bridger Bowl's Bridger and Deer Park lifts. The branches are made of the lift tower’s steel tubing. While making the sculpture, Rodgers, who graduated from MSU with a bachelor's degree in art, learned pipe fitting and welding. He had to coordinate transportation and donations of labor and services from many parts of the Gallatin Valley community.
"This shows how much art is valued in the community," Judge said. "We’re doing this on a shoestring budget and we can because of the in-kind donations.”
Vaughan Judge (406) 994-4501, email@example.com