The saying "it takes many to make a whole" describes Beverly Weiss and Jim Modiano's commission at California State University, Chico. Located in front of the Performing Arts Center, Morphogenesis occupies the courtyard's "under-used space," bringing natural elements and environmental concerns to an urban setting.

Morphogenesis consists of many cone-shaped, concrete objects ("sub-units") that are juxtaposed or stacked upon one another. This meticulous arrangement creates a fluid line of arcs and hemispheres throughout the sculpture. Morphogenesis's concept derives from the biological model of cell growth. For example, the human fetus originates from one cell that multiplies and interacts cohesively, contributing to the growth of a complex, working system of organs, bones, and muscles - in other words, a baby. Similarly, the sculpture's hundreds of conjoined geometric shapes deny individual isolation. "Morphogenesis reminds us that we are part of nature's web of relationships and interdependencies," state Weiss and Modiano. Appearing to move physically within its space, the sculpture expands onto the courtyard's pavement, defying all imaginary barriers that might prohibit its intrusion into the surrounding area. Its monochromatic black color scheme symbolizes the obsidian deposits of Chico's outlying wild lands, providing a reminder of the endangered environment and the life within it.

Morphogenesis serves as an "activating remedy" for the space it inhabits. Originally part of a temporary exhibition, the university's decision to demolish the sculpture (scheduled for May 2002) remains in question.

-Lori Wallace


Postscript: Morphogenesis was destroyed as scheduled in the summer of 2002.

© copyright 2017, Jim Modiano