The Colorado School of Mines campus quickly becomes a second home for the roughly 1,400 new students that join the Oredigger family each year. With many classes being offered virtually and aimlessly wandering around campus being discouraged, it’s likely some of the campus’ character will be lost to new and returning students alike. I believe, part of what makes the Mines campus charming is its public art. Mines’ large collection of public art is, in part, thanks to Colorado’s Art in Public Places Program, which mandates one percent of any new construction or renovation budget is allocated to purchasing art. Since Mines is a public school, almost all renovations and construction on campus after 1977 have been accompanied by the addition of art to campus. Throughout this semester, The Oredigger’s Arts and Culture section will share the stories of some of these pieces of art. We hope that it helps Mines students continue to feel connected to campus, regardless of how frequently they visit it in person.
The first piece of public art to receive the spotlight this semester is one that every Chemical Engineer should be able to picture, even if they don’t know its name. The 4 stories of stained glass that is Menare greet everyone who walks the main doors of Alderson, even if Chemical Engineers are likely the most familiar with it. Made of hundreds of pieces of antique stained glass from around the world, Menare was installed in Alderson Hall in 1997.
Menare translates to flow in Latin. The in-depth study of the properties of flowing fluids in the curriculum of both the Chemical Engineering Department and the Petroleum Engineering Department, who also use to call Alderson home, inspired the piece’s name, as well as the flowing appearance of the Helical lines in the stained glass. Its cascading colors help give Menare a sense of movement. Scientifically speaking, to create colors in the glass, different chemical compounds or minerals are suspended in the glass while it was blown. These chemical compounds and minerals absorb specific wavelengths of light and reflect the colors that we see when we look at the stained glass. The different pieces of stained glass illustrate diffraction of light in an easily visible way, another subject that both the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering department include in their curriculum. Not only do the colors represent several complex subjects taught at Mines, but they also serve to soften the grey halls of Alderson. The artist who created Menare, Barbara Saull, hoped that the colors would remind passing students to stop and give themselves a break every so often from the rigorous academia of Mines.
If you enjoyed this article on art in public places, then you might be interested in reading some more articles like it from a few years ago available on our website now. Visit oredigger.net and look for them under the art category.