Mason to Host 2008 Olympic Landscape Sculpture International Exhibition

Posted: November 27, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

It is not unusual to see statues or sculptures gracing the green lawns around the Fairfax Campus. However, beginning today, dozens of new pieces will be installed on the campus. The 51 sculptures by artists from around the world will represent the Olympic spirit.

Mason was chosen as the only university in the world to be an official host site for the 2008 Olympic Landscape Sculpture International Exhibition. The sculptures at Mason, which make up about half of the entire exhibition, will be on display from Thursday, Nov. 29, through Friday, Dec. 7, on the plaza between Mason Hall and the Center for the Arts. (See note below.)

A ribbon-cutting opening ceremony will take place on Thursday, Nov. 29, at noon on the plaza, followed by a reception in the Center for the Arts lobby. Traditional Chinese dances such as the lion dance, dragon dance, WuShu and other performances will be featured.

A delegation of representatives from the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Committee will attend. Wenzhong Zhou, ambassador of the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China, will participate in the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Mason and the New World Bilingual Institute are sponsoring the exhibition. The New World Bilingual Institute provides resources and opportunities to enrich the lives of all ethnic groups and to help people of all ages to learn, understand and appreciate the Chinese and English languages and cultures.

“With the excitement of the Olympic Games coming up next year, hosting the exhibition is an interesting opportunity to call attention to our strong relationships with China,” says Mason Provost Peter Stearns. “The university is very pleased to be involved. This will provide the Mason community and the wider public an opportunity to view the interesting sculptures and think about the Olympics and China.”

The Beijing Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games organized an international competition in 2005, inviting artists from around the world to submit sculpture designs depicting themes of the Olympic Games – peace, friendship, competition, harmony and progress.

An international panel of 17 experts from Austria, Germany, Italy, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States chose 110 sculptures from more than 2,400 entries submitted from 90 countries. Made from bronze, iron, aluminum, stainless steel and other materials, the sculptures were each copied three times so the exhibition could go on simultaneous tours around the world.

A nationwide tour began on June 23, 2007 – International Olympic Day – in Beijing. Then the exhibition started its international tour in London, host city of the 2012 Olympic Games. The sculptures have since travelled to cities that have already hosted the games, such as Athens, Seoul, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Barcelona and Sydney.

“Serving as a host site for the Olympic sculptures is yet another example of George Mason University putting itself on the world map as becoming a leader in the areas of culture and the arts,” says Terry Wang, president of the New World Bilingual Institute. “As the only university in the world to host the exhibition, Mason will have the opportunity to be involved in a historic event.”

During the international tour, visitors will be able to vote for their favorite sculpture symbolizing the games of the XXIX Olympiad. These votes, together with those of the committee of art experts, will determine the best 29 out of the 110 sculptures.

At the end of this year, the sculptures will be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals and will be displayed around the Olympic venues in Beijing.

To view images of the sculptures, visit the New World Bilingual Institute web site.

Editor’s note: because of weather concerns, the sculpture display has been moved indoors to the Center for the Arts lobby.

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