Robert Maki graduated from Western in 1962 and dedicated himself right away to an artistic career. He completed his first major commission project in 1973 at Sea-Tac Airport and has created many sculptures for public places since. Maki’s education in industrial design, engineering and drafting laid a foundation for his ongoing artistic exploration of perception. In his sculpture at Western, Curve/Diagonal, Maki created a curve that gives the illusion of flattening out and change as the viewer moves around the sculpture. The sculpture changes also with the varying light at different time of the day and seasons, either flattening or opening the structure.
Maki is an articulate spokesman on the issues involved in his work, and the difficult task of transferring a work from an interior space to an exterior site.
"Curve/Diagonal on the WWU campus was selected by Virginia and Bagley Wright out of my 1979 Richard Hines Gallery exhibition. After looking at pieces in that exhibition, they decided to purchase this piece and later gifted it to the University. It was constructed in 1979, but it actually comes from models and studies in a series done between 1974-76. It was one of four pieces executed for the Richard Hines Gallery exhibition. They were all fabricated from Cor-ten steel; although, the piece at Western has since been painted gray.”
“The piece appeared completely different in the exhibition space. Even though the gallery was quite large, the piece felt much larger in that space but, of course, seemed to diminish in size once it was put on the campus site. For this reason it was rather difficult to site the piece on campus. We looked at various sites and made a full-scale model out of wood and visqueen allowing us to move it easily in the siting process. This is how we decided on the present site. It is sited specifically for the flow of traffic past it and in relationship to the giant boulder that sets under the ground and peaks through slightly. It is oriented so that the sunlight hits it and restructures the piece visually….”
“The boulder extends and reinforces the piece. It is a powerful shallow basalt outcropping that barely shows above ground. When I site a piece, I consider everything in the environment. The sculpture alters the site and the site alters the sculpture. I have always thought my sculpture a fragment completed by the site. If not site-generated, they are positioned or placed to activate the site geometry and reference their surroundings extending to engage the viewer visually and physically….”
“…As one passes this piece over a period of hours, days or even throughout the school year, it will visually change very dramatically….”