Although ignoring the 40 feet tall sculpture that stands near the classrooms is not easy, one becomes used to its sight after a few weeks without quite understanding the reason for its presence. Far from being just for decoration purposes, the sculpture embodies UC Merced’s mision and hopes for the future.
“Beginnings” was conceived by Aris Demetrios, a well-known sculptor whose work is all over California and the world. It was inspired by UC Merced’s former Acting Chancellor Rod Park and his wife, Cathy, back in 2006, and it was a gift to the UC from them, the Bob and Marie Gallo family and John, Joseph and Fred T. Franzia of Bronco Winery, as well as Demetrios himself, who successfully installed his work of art on campus on April 21st, 2009.
The sculpture, situated in the academic core of campus, is made out stainless steel and consists of two slightly curved, vertical arms that face the city of Merced. Notably, upon its completion, Parks stated that “These two soaring, enfolding arcs embody our vision of a university that both embraces its students and provides a growing seed whose bounty will benefit all in this valley and beyond.” Remarkably, UC Merced is the first American research university of the 21st century, and being located in the Central Valley, a region in need of economic growth, helps explain the objective of the university, which is precisely to address the educational and professional needs of the valley in hopes of stimulating the economy; the steel arms, then, represent the potential of an institution that is barely over a decade old, as well as its objective of embracing and contributing to the local community as it grows and flourishes.
Ultimately, its significance is the future impact of our institution, which we all start working towards as soon as we walk through those steel arms and begin learning skills that will let us build a better Central Valley; the beginning of a better community starts with us.
Photo Credit: Sam Ginete.
Note: this article has been updated to give credit to the photographer of this article.