Pegasus

Pegasus

Photographed by: Jillian Proscia

 

Roberto Bertoia (American, 1955 – )
Pegasus, 1987
Teak Wood, Stainless Steel Frame
Location: Campus Spine, Near Library Tower
Gift of the Binghamton University Class of 1985
Collection of Binghamton University

The Pegasus, a white horse with wings, is one of the most famous images from Greek mythology. According to the myth, a blow from the hooves of the Pegasus, caused the fountain of inspiration to spring from Mount Helicon, a mountain peak associated with the Muses—the spirits of dance, music, literature, and memory. The Pegasus has also long been a symbol of enlightenment overcoming ignorance, which is one of the reasons it was chosen to be the official symbol of Binghamton University in the 1950s. The Pegasus is a frequent sight around campus, perhaps even more than the actual mascot of the bearcat.

One of the most visible incarnations on campus is an abstracted, outdoor wooden sculpture located right in the center of the university’s “spine.” Pegasus was the result of a contest held by the Class of 1985 to choose the class gift for Binghamton University. The contest awarded a monetary prize to an artist with the best design for an outdoor sculpture that symbolized the spirit of the school; the winner was to be hand picked by a special committee. The committee, with representatives from the Senior Class Council, alumni, faculty, professional employees, and administration, chose Cornell University professor Roberto Bertoia’s proposal for an abstracted pegasus. The work took Bertoia ten months to construct; it was dedicated in the fall of 1987.

Bertoia is known for his elegant, abstract sculptures, and wood is his primary medium. Pegasus was carved from rich teak wood, which was then bolted to a stainless steel frame and attached to a concrete base. The sculpture consists of an uneven arch that suggests a horse’s body and legs, on either side of which protrude angular, asymmetrical wings. The wings are open, as if in flight, with one horizontally orientated and the other posed vertically. The sculpture itself soars thirteen feet above its arched opening.

The sculpture has known several locations on campus. Its original location was chosen with the guidance of the Committee on the University Environment to be both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally unobtrusive. In 2012, Pegasus was moved to its current, central location in front of the Library Tower as part of an extensive reconfiguration to the campus’s main walkway. Its new location carefully places it at the intersection of two sightlines, one running north-south from the Library Tower to the Science buildings, and the other running east-west from the Student Union to Academic Building A. In its new locations Pegasus has become a place where students meet and congregate, sitting beneath its arch on the three stairs that make up its stacked square base. While a relatively new addition to campus, Pegasus has become more than just another incarnation of the campus symbol; rather, it is a true fixture, a work of art that students can “finally be proud of,” according to the student run newspaper Pipe Dream.

Researched by: Allison Drexler

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