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Gabriel Warren Art Acquisition

Gabriel Warren Acquisition

Piesterion: Diasmaton 2, stainless steel and bronze,
2007, by Gabriel Warren

Four columns, each crafted out of stainless steel and bronze, stand diagonally across from one another and gleam as they reflect the sunlight. This sculpture titled Piesterion: Diasematon 2, by artist Gabriel Warren, was recently acquired by Vanderbilt University and will be on permanent display outside of Cohen Memorial Hall.

Warren's work is influenced by his deep interest in the environment and issues of sustainability. This piece, as evidenced by its title, is a response to ice cores extracted in Antarctica. "Piesterion" comes from the Greek root piester, "press," which references the formation of polar ice caps. "Diasematon" comes from the Greek prefix dia, "through," and semata, "signals," both of which reference inclusions —atmospheric gas bubbles trapped inside ice cores during their formation—that are represented in the sculpture by bronze plates that bisect the stainless steel columns.

Joseph Mella, Director of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery, said, "the examination of these ice cores illustrates the importance of studying the geological history of our planet. As Warren states in the companion publication that accompanied his exhibition here at the Fine Arts Gallery, 'if you don't know where we have been, how can you surmise where we are going?'" Warren stresses the importance to his work of the scientific method, but he also explains on his website that, "these pieces, like all my work, use the phenomena of ice as a metaphorical point of departure; it is to be emphasized that this is only a point of departure — a work of visual art too closely reasoned is bound to lack ambiguity, breath, and life." In addition, he said, "the bronze plates are symbolic and metaphorical references to human cognition and analysis, not just a romp with glaciology - although it is that as well."

Funding for this piece was provided by a private donation, given to the university in 1981, to support campus beautification. Judson Newbern, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Facilities and Environment at Vanderbilt said, "we were looking for an inaugural piece for the outdoor sculpture space being created adjacent to Cohen Memorial Hall, so the timing coincided perfectly with Mona Frederick introducing us to the environmental nature of Gabriel Warren's work. The simplicity and strength in the elements that compose the sculpture work very well in that location."

Warren received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, and has studied at the Tyler School of Art, Rome, Italy; Amherst College, Amherst, MA; the Phillips Academy, Andover, MA; and the Externat Notre Dame, Grenoble, France. Dividing his time between his studio and residence in Rhode Island and his summer home in a primitive cabin he built on a sea cliff in Nova Scotia, Warren travels frequently to Antarctica. In 1999, he was the recipient of a National Science Foundation "Artists and Writers in Antarctica" grant. His art has been shown at the Peabody-Essex Museum, Salem, MA; Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI; Hunter College, New York, NY; and the Quay School of the Arts, Wanganui, New Zealand, among many other museums and galleries.

In addition to Warren's many artistic accomplishments, he is also the son of acclaimed Vanderbilt alumnus Robert Penn Warren. With regard to Vanderbilt's acquisition of his work, Gabriel Warren said, "it is very heartwarming. I've never lived in that part of the world, but it is very much part of who I am. To have a piece as my representative there is kind of a closing of the circle. It is much more than another commission or sale."