Science and art collided in the newest contribution to Guilford College’s campus: a bike rack created by our very own Will Staples.
So how did this amazing opportunity for a Guilford student to create a permanent piece of our campus come about? Well, last fall, Mark Dixon’s Sculpture I class was given an assignment called “Benefaction”, where they were asked to create a sculpture that would benefit someone other than themselves. It was around this time that David Petree, Director of Environmental Sustainability, Bronwyn Tucker, sustainability coordinator, and Brett Hacker, Director of Facilities and Energy Management, approached Mark’s class about making the “Benefaction” project into a contest where the students would design bike racks and the winner would have their structure permanently installed on campus.
Art major and Biology minor, Will Staples, won this contest with his bike rack design that combined his skills as a welder and his scientific interests. When asked about his inspiration for the sculpture, Will said, “at first I knew I wanted to design a steel representation of a specific molecule. The most appropriate molecule in size, spacing, and relevance to the function of a bike rack turned out to be a specific endorphin.”
Will wanted to make the molecule as accurately shaped and proportioned as possible so he wouldn’t, as he put it, “offend the science students of Frank Family Science Center”. In order to accomplish this, he enlisted the help of Bio-Chemistry alum and current student, Layth Awartani, making this a true cross-disciplinary collaboration.
The sculpture is made of steel pipe and 4” steel spheres painted in rustoleum primer and gloss. One unexpected aspect of this structure that Will points out is that “all the spheres were plasma cut and the rods are welded together internally inside each sphere. This was necessary for structural stability and incidentally made the process exponentially longer.”
Will’s bike rack currently resides behind Frank Family Science center, next to the Early College trailers, but will be reinstalled this summer in a more secure location, between Frank and Binford. So when you’re parking your endorphin-inducing bike in this endorphin-shaped bike rack, thank Will Staples for the many hours he put into this project!!!