Campus: CSU Northridge -- January 24, 2003

CSUN Sculpture Garden Pays Tribute to Valley's Recovery From 1994 Northridge Earthquake


Fallen columns, twisted rebar and concentric circles that get larger as they move outward bring back memories of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

But instead of remnants of devastation, the objects in CSUN's new Lauretta Wasserstein Earthquake Sculpture Garden pay tribute to the resilience and tenacity of the university and the community which worked together to recover from the devastating 6.7-magnitude temblor of nine years ago.

"The garden is supposed to be a place for campus people and the members of the community to come and sit and marvel at the wonders of art and nature working together, and that something positive and creative came out of catastrophe," said Philip Handler, CSUN's vice provost for academic affairs, who played a key role in seeing in the garden created.
Handler said the garden "is a place for peace, and solace and a bringing together of art and nature in a positive spirit born literally out of the rubble of the earthquake."

He pointed out that the word incorporates pieces of campus Parking Structure C, which collapsed in the quake.

The sculpture garden is located on the south end of the campus just off the Lindley Avenue and Nordhoff Street entrance south of the Matador Bookstore. It was created by artist Marjorie Berkson Sievers and landscape architect Paul Lewis.

Sievers, a Northridge alumna, said the inspiration for the sculpture came from her own experiences during the earthquake.

"Immediately after the quake I began painting and photographing images," she said. "My house was destroyed, and then I saw the damage at CSUN. In the destruction and contorted and bent structures were shapes and forms that reflected elements of beauty."

Lewis tied the sculpture into the landscape and created a cohesive connection between the pieces. "An earthquake is a shifting of the land and it is these forces of nature that affect the natural, built and economic landscapes," Lewis said. "We have taken this concept of shifted land and presented it in the landscape and have paid homage to the awesome power of earthquakes."

The family and friends of Lauretta Wasserstein, a former CSUN health science faculty member, provided funding for the sculpture garden. Wasserstein died of breast cancer more than 10 years ago. The university will be dedicating the sculpture garden during a special invitation-only ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 9.

The epicenter of the earthquake was only about one mile southwest of the 353-acre campus. The shaking was so severe that every one of the university's 107 buildings was damaged. Some eventually had to be torn down or completely rebuilt.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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