The Power of Limits - CODAworx

The Power of Limits

Submitted by Nancy Lovendahl

Client: Western State Colorado University

Location: Quigley Hall, Gunnison, CO, United States

Completion date: 2016

Artwork budget: $156,000

Project Team

Industry Resource

Frank Swanson

Swanson Stone

Industry Resource

Chris Klein

Christopher Klein Construction, Inc


11'H x 50'W x 25'D
Limestone, Stainless Steel, Rose Quartz Crusher Fines 
Artist:  Nancy Lovendahl, Lovendahl Studio; Stone Pre-forming:  Swanson Stone, Sedalia, CO; Carving and Finishing:  Lovendahl Studio; Soils Evaluation:  City of Gunnison, CO;  Foundations & Installation: Christopher Klein Construction, Gunnison, CO; Engineering:  Brian Kurtz Engineering, Glenwood Springs, CO;  Site consultant: Christopher Skully, Arch., Hord Coplan Macht, Denver, CO


The project goal was to link the Performing & Visual Art Departments at WSCU. I used Pythagoras' discovery of the harmonic mathematic proportions of unison, octaves & intervals in sound- which creates a leaf-like form. We cut this form from the center of 5 large raw stone blocks, making 11 individual parts to place in a grouping that people can enter, perform in, sit on and interact with.  These natural proportions also create harmony in visual art, thus linking both departments.


WSCU's Art and Music Department professors shared with me their curricula priorities. Their appreciation of history that is used in contemporary music & art, inspired the using of the Pythagorean theorem to create a beautiful design and model that all approved. As far as producing this design, Swanson Stone executed my first stage of production by precutting the leaf form out of 5- 20,000 lb blocks on an enormous bandsaw. I have worked with this team since 1998. From there, I did the forming and finishing myself, individual piece by piece over an entire year. Chris Klein was recommended to install the foundations and set the finished stones as his expertise in this area is the best in western CO. Since some forms had no hard edges to sling onto to lift them, like bananas, my studio assistant welded together a steel lifting frame to lift & set the parts onto the stainless stone pins placed in the concrete foundations. All standing parts are pinned & glued in for severe student interaction 5.0 - like the football team jumping from rock to rock safely!

Additional Information

Evaluating this site for artwork placement was difficult. The open lawn in front of Quigley Hall, a "1960's non-descript design", quoting the renovation architect, Chris Skully, lent no real "sense of place". I chose to using similar colored stone to match the building and then create an environmental form, which could be set anywhere. Working with Chris Skully assisted in creating a base container of red crusher fines to hold it all together. I used the form of unison, a half circle - and it became one whole unto itself, as a companion with the building.