April 28, 2003 Vol. VII, No. 15

Paying Tribute...

Scenes of the new Laura Wasserstein Earthquake Sculpture Garden at CSUN.

Sculpture Garden Honors Valley's Earthquake Recovery

CSUN Project Named in Memory of Former Health Sciences Faculty Member

Fallen columns, twisted rebar and concentric circles that get larger as they move outward all bring back memories of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

But instead of recalling devastation, CSUN's new Lauretta Wasserstein Earthquake Sculpture Garden pays tribute to the resilience and tenacity of the university and the community, which worked together to recover from the devastating 6.7 magnitude temblor of nine years ago.

Funding for the sculpture garden came from the family and friends of Lauretta Wasserstein, a former health sciences faculty member who died of breast cancer more than 10 years ago.

Major donors included Wasserstein's husband Alan, son Jack, and daughter Barbara Grushow and her husband Sandy Grushow.

The sculpture garden was created by artist Marjorie Berkson Sievers and landscape architect Paul Lewis. Sievers, a Northridge alumna, said the inspiration for the sculpture came from her own experiences during the earthquake.

CSUN Vice Provost Philip Handler, who helped with bringing the project to completion, called the garden "a place for peace, and solace and a bringing together of art and nature in a positive spirit born literally out of the rubble of the earthquake."

Handler added, "The garden is supposed to be a place for campus people and members of the community to come and sit and marvel at the wonders of art and nature working together, and to know that something positive and creative came out of catastrophe."

The sculpture garden, dedicated in early February, is located at the south end of the campus near the Lindley Avenue and Nordhoff Street entrance, south of the Matador Bookstore. The project incorporates remnants of the former campus Parking Structure C along Zelzah Avenue, which partially collapsed in the 1994 earthquake and was later demolished.

"Immediately after the quake, I began painting and photographing images," Sievers said. "My house was destroyed, and then I saw the damage at CSUN. In the destruction and contorted and bent structures were shapes and forms that reflected elements of beauty."

Lewis tied the sculpture into the landscape and created a cohesive connection between the pieces. "An earthquake is a shifting of the land and it is these forces of nature that affect the natural, built and economic landscapes," he said. "We have taken this concept of shifted land and presented it in the landscape and have paid homage to the awesome power of earthquakes."

The epicenter of the Jan. 17, 1994 earthquake was only about one mile south of the 353-acre campus. The shaking was so severe that every one of CSUN's more than 100 buildings was damaged. Some ultimately had to be demolished and rebuilt.

Attending the dedication ceremony were (l. to r.) architect Paul Lewis; artist Marjorie Berkson Sievers; CSUN President Jolene Koester; Barbara Grushow, Lauretta Wassersteinıs daughter; Sandra Klasky, who helped organize the project, and CSUN Vice Provost Philip Handler.

@csun | April 28, 2003 issue
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