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A New "Gateway" into Rutgers University-Camden

Fourth Street, between Cooper and Lawrence Streets, had once been home to a patch of bland, boring asphalt. Now that ground has been transformed into The Gateway, a sculpture and landscaping project that serves as a portal into the Rutgers University campus, and as a significant work of public art for the City of Camden.

"It acts as a transition space from the city to this place of learning," says Clyde Lynds, creator of The Gateway. "The concept from the beginning was to engage the community with an open gesture of light and transparency. It was designed to interest everyone and to form a welcoming symbol for the campus."

The project consists of two murals on walls made of laminated, tempered glass and stainless steel. These walls, each 10’ high and 60’ long, showcase hundreds of drawings of objects from nature and from civilization. They also form a transparent corridor that, at night, become a corridor of light leading to a concrete, fiber optic and glass sculpture with its own displays of moving light.

“One wall is about what we humans have created (good and bad) out of knowledge and the other wall is about natural creation. The nature drawings have elements that allude to ways that we try to understand or teach about these subjects. The civilization mural was drawn and composed to generate wide ranging interpretations of their elements,” explains Lynds.

The fiber optics in the concrete sculpture located between the glass-walled walkway remains unseen until they light. Lynds says, “Stone changing to light exemplifies a world we do not know. It takes our expectations of the material world – a solid immutable object — and makes it ephemeral. The stone represents the future: its possibilities, challenges and discoveries.”

A quote from Daniel Webster, the man behind Webster’s dictionary, is etched in two places. The quote, “Knowledge is the great sun of the firmament. Light and power are scattered in all of its beams,” is carved into the stone sculpture and is translated into another language on the glass civilization murals.

Lynds, a sculptor with studios in New York and New Jersey, was selected for this project in 2004. His work has been shown in the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe, and he's done large-scale commissions for corporations, universities and, in this country, completed state, city and federal government projects. Those projects include the artwork and fountain for the New Jersey State Capital Plaza and a 60-foot tower and beacon for New Jersey Transit. He also created a three-story concrete and fiber optic relief for the Federal Office Building at Foley Square, N.Y., and sculptures for the IRS Central Computing Facility in Virginia, Rutgers-New Brunswick, AT&T, and Hewlett Packard, among others. His work is shown at the National Museum of American Art, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the New Jersey State Museum.

""Public art should reflect the needs of its location and have some aspects that invite the interests of everyone," says Lynds. "That doesn't mean it needs to exist at a perceptive level for children. It means that it should engage, inform, challenge and even entertain at the same time it develops ideas for the site. Most important, it should present ideas and concepts in some original way that adds depth of meaning and richness to the experience it offers."

All artwork is Copyright 2007 Clyde Lynds.