PAHB Arches

A few steps beyond the front door of the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s Performing Arts and Humanities Building (PAHB) stands a chiseled work of art. Displayed on the northeast end of the academic building is a structural composition of seven brown concrete half-arches and a multitude of concrete cubes. Three arches face toward the building’s rear with the remaining four parallel, facing away from the PAHB. Stretching approximately two stories high, the delicately-carved brown arches appear quite tall and intricate in comparison to the simplistic small cubes which find a home on the ground between them.  While the arches are used as decoration, the cubes can be anything from a sculpture to a seat. Students can be found interacting with the work on a daily basis, studying beneath the arches atop the concrete cubes.

Similar to college students, light also interacts with the structural composition. Rather than the abstract physical shapes of the sculpture itself conveying a deeper meaning, it’s effect on light does. Due to the its location, the arches and cubes fall within the natural light of the sun by day and the artificial lights of the campus by night, causing different shadows by the minute. Sizes of both the arches and the cubes vary from their counterparts, some constructed taller and wider than others. This, along with the concrete medium used for each component and the light surrounding the sculpture, allows for highlights and shadows to find a consistent home within the work. While they differ in location due to time and light, the shadows convey that time has ability to drastically affect happenings, a fact that is relevant in both art and life. In life, simply giving something time can affect the outcome, similar to how waiting near the arches can affect what you see.

While the sculpture indeed works as an artistic design, it also acts to students’ benefits, offering a multitude of seats within what can be described as a sculpture garden. Offering this unique advantage allows for UMBC students to further interact with art and study the intricacies they may not have if this sculpture was replaced with the average benches and chairs.  The arches engage the public in the art of creativity – often a lost issue within the day-to-day endeavors of honors university students.pahb-arches


Theo van Doesburg

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Born in August 1883, Dutch artist Theo van Doesburg, is the founder of the artistic movement called De Stijl. It is the process of simplifying the visual composition into a pure abstraction using geometric shapes. He was an artist with a wide range of talents; he is a painter, an architect, a designer, a poet, and an art theorist. Piet Modrian and Wassily Kandinsky inspired van Doesburg to paint geometric abstractions of subjects based on nature. His paintings are simplistic consisting of plain vertical and horizontal shapes and primary colors. From painting, he began to focus on the promotion of De Stijl movement and formed a group of artists in Germany and France. In reaction to his unreciprocated hope of joining the faculty of the Bauhaus art school, he established his own studio directly next to the Bauhaus and attracted many students to join the development of his ideas based on Constructivism, Dadaism, and De Stijl.

Two popular early abstraction works from van Doesburg are the paintings Dancers and Composition VIII (The Cow). Dancers is an abstract oil painting in the style of Constructivism. The painting consists of neutral-colored geometric shapes assembled to form two human figures. The figures represent the Hindu deity, Krishna, who is seen dancing while playing a flute. Van Doesburg created this work to express spiritual perspectives. Another work where he incorporated figure study is the painting Composition VIII, also called The Cow. Van Doesburg used figurative sketches to analyze the form of a cow and slowly create a simplified composition to justify his practice, De Stijl. The cow figure is transformed into a group of colorful, flat rectangles and squares placed in the center of a plain white canvas.


Theo_van_Doesburg_Dancers_1916.jpgDancers. c. 1916

tumblr_nb2v0m8Ypt1r1jmv0o1_1280.pngComposition VIII (The Cow). c. 1918

f63727ac827d85b072b88145435e2474.jpgA series of figurative sketches and transformation of the cow figure. c. 1918

Van Doesburg has been influential in different fields of contemporary art. He has a big impact in architecture. A German-born American architect, Ludwig Lies Van der Role, incorporated van Doesburg’s idea of using bold-colored geometry to help define modern architecture. Van der Role is an architect and educator who exemplifies International Style of architecture and is acknowledged as one of the 20th century’s greatest architects. Van Doesburg also wrote numerous theories and journals on geometric abstraction which influenced not only Modernist architects but also many graphic designers.


“Theo Van Doesburg Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works …” The Art Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016. 

“Theo Van Doesberg.” Design Is History. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Theo Van Doesburg.” Britannica. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

“Mies Van Der Rohe Society – Legacy.” Mies Society. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.