Duke University is building the first outdoor space on campus dedicated to the arts with a $1.5 million project at Campus Drive and Anderson Street. The new green space will showcase the arts, visually connecting the Nasher Museum of Art and Rubenstein Arts Center.
This new green oasis establishes a gateway to the Duke Arts District along Campus Drive. The Nasher Museum will inaugurate the space on September 28 with a work of performance art by Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar in collaboration with local musicians.
“We are overjoyed with this project. My vision has always been to activate the space outside the Nasher,” said Sarah Schroth, Mary D.B.T. and James H. Semans Director of the Nasher Museum. “Our founding benefactor Raymond D. Nasher always talked about sculpture surrounding the ‘museum on a hill.’
“This creates an entirely new experience for Duke and all visitors, a new engagement with art that combines nature, beauty and scholarly pursuits to enrich our lives.”
The park-like space comprises a 7,000-square-foot piazza that frames a green square suited for musical, dance and theatrical performances. A 50-foot-long human-scaled gallery bench of stone will provide space for rest and study. The Nasher Museum will install one new sculpture within the landscaped forest and meadow, with more sculpture installations to follow.
A 32-foot exterior wall of the Nasher Museum, which had been obscured before the arts space, will be ideal for outdoor film screenings. In 2020, the Nasher Museum plans to commission a vivid street painting across Campus Drive, between the museum and the Ruby.
The space is designed by West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, based in Rotterdam and New York. Groundbreaking will begin in May 2019.
The Nasher Museum will install “Vessel” by Radcliffe Bailey as the first sculpture in the new park. “Vessel” is a 13-foot cone of steel with an open ceiling that creates a skyscape, while a conch shell perched high emanates an ambient soundscape. The conch shell loosely alludes to ocean crossings and the Middle Passage in the Atlantic slave trade, recurring themes in the artist’s work. Bailey takes an uplifting and transporting approach with “Vessel,” bringing visitors closer to a spiritual journey into the unknown. Music is a recurring subject in Bailey’s work. This is the second work by Bailey to enter the Nasher Museum’s collection.
Brooklyn-based, Israeli-born artist Naama Tsabar creates an aurally and visually immersive performance, featuring local musicians who are women or gender nonconforming. Divided into three bands, individual musicians stand atop their amplifiers, each band playing separate songs that share the same four chords, musical scale and beats per minute. At one point, all three bands play simultaneously and the result is a dense but harmonious musical field. The Nasher Museum has commissioned this work from Tsabar’s “Composition” series to inaugurate the new Duke sculpture garden.