Symmetry Art Installation

Last Updated: 3/1/2021 2:40 PM

Many people enter our school and find themselves in Circle Court. Maybe you've walked past the sculptures tucked into the walls but never really knew much about them. Some of our students are working on creating an audio described tour of the sculptures. We will have printed and braille copies, too! Here is what you will learn on the tour:

“Symmetry” by Robert Gerhke

“Symmetry” is a hands-on, interactive wall relief sculpture of lacquered bronze and aluminum. It was created by artist Robert Gerhke in 2004, commissioned and designed for this circle court of Lysen Hall. There are four sculptures, one on each of the four walls in this room. The basic concepts of “Symmetry” are discovery, transformation and history. Each panel corresponds with a season and time period, has a different color, and incorporates different tactile objects. Starting at the northeast wall, moving counterclockwise are these panels: spring (primordial time), summer (prehistoric to historic time), fall (recent time), and winter (the future). The panels display hundreds of images, both relief and full round. Also depicted in four larger chambers of each long panel are 21 constellations including the signs of the zodiac. Braille text bars below the panels identify images and concepts. The MSAB archives has more detailed information about this sculpture, if you would like to learn more!


Spring panel (Prehistoric to Historic Time)

This is the spring panel, located on the northeast wall. It is the first panel in the “Symmetry” collection and represents primordial time. It contains many water images. Elements include a chambered, rotating box turtle shell with a hinge that drops in the forward-facing position, a chambered nautilus shell that pivots, and many other sea and freshwater critters. There is also a comparative line of five eggs from hummingbird to owl, each with a distinctive size and shape. Some other things to find are a golf ball, a fishing lure, a sand dollar, fossils and the head of a sprinkling can. Continue counterclockwise for the next panel.


Summer panel (Prehistoric to Historic Time)

This is the summer panel, located on the northwest wall. It is the second panel in the “Symmetry” collection and represents prehistoric to historic time. A central image in the summer panel is Heyoka, a Dakota Sioux deity drawn by the warrior White Deer who lived near Fort Snelling. Heyoka brings laughter and happiness through his ridiculous antics, making people forget their worries and oppressions. A relief image of the state of Minnesota represents the Iron Range, Bemidji, Minneapolis, Faribault, Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers and many lakes. Some other things to find are a life-sized beaver skull, a bird’s nest with moveable eggs, a horseshoe, arrowheads and a car. Continue counterclockwise for the next panel.


Fall panel (Recent Time)

This is the fall panel. It is the third panel in the “Symmetry” collection and represents recent time. It displays student and staff hand castings and depicts various school activities, such as learning to distinguish coins, a slate and stylus for writing Braille, and sports. Some other things to find are keys, a Goldy Gopher mascot, a bar of soap, a harmonica, a toothbrush and toothpaste. To the left of the fall panel, there is a title plaque that also contains a display area for an informational card for distribution to the public. On the right, there is a separate panel that contains a bell. It is labeled 1866, the founding date of the school. It is surrounded by corn, wheat, and a radish, representing the school’s early years as a subsistence farm. Four kernels of corn represent the initial enrollment of four students. Continue counterclockwise for the last panel.


Winter panel (Future Time)

This is the winter panel. It is the last panel in the “Symmetry” collection and represents the future. It contains symbols of the unwritten future, such as a fortune cookie, a partially knitted mitten, and a wrist watch. In addition to snowflakes, icicles, and other wintery elements, it is adorned with droplets that may be viewed as melting ice or raindrops. Some other things to find are a sleigh bell, a cookie cutter, a tea bag, origami and a moveable teacup on a saucer. Continue counterclockwise to return to the first panel of the collection.


Distant shot of the Fall panel




Description: The "Fall" panel is situated on the southwest wall, with a long panel of cast metal objects, a small panel on the left introducing the artwork, and another small panel on the right which includes a bell.







Cast metal objects in the Fall sculpture






Description: A picture of cast metal objects in the Fall sculpture, depicting Swiss cheese, crackers, and an apple core.







Constellation image






Description: A closer view of the tactile constellations which is found on the top of each arched shelf area of the sculpture.