Rock my world

by Alicia Anstead

Every day for the last two weeks, I've been watching landscapers construct piles of rock on the Brattle Street side of the Radcliffe Institute. I mean literally PILES OF ROCK.

Turns out, those textured lumps are an art installation called "Stock-pile" which is part of the Institute's 10th anniversary celebration taking place today. I have to say, I kind of like these rocks. They make me feel very Zen. They remind me of perfectly formed ant hills. Or a playground. Or a maze. Or a meditation. Or.... Gee, I never thought rocks could be so inspiring.

Even though the pointy pyramids of stone, aggregate, sand and soil are meticulously shaped now, they will surely respond -- as we all do -- to the upcoming New England winter. How will the snow reshape them? (After all, look how snow reshapes us...with parkas and hats and boots...)

In the meantime, two of the Stonehenge-y stock-piles are planted with ancient ferns. Very lush, these two. The juxtaposition of the rocks and a soft place may make you want to nuzzle into those ancient ferns.

Chris Reed, the GSD design critic for the work, uses this dictionary definition of stock-pile (the word) to nudge passersby into his space: a storage pile or heap of material; a reserve supply of something essential; a gradually accumulated reserve of something, esp. something vital or indispensable.

Gradually accumulated reserve, vital, indispensible: Very Radcliffe.

But those rocks got me thinking: How much art do we see each day as we walk through life? Pay attention. It's there -- sculptural and performative -- and I agree with Chris Reed: vital and indispensible. Rock on.

[Caption: These mounds have been rocking my morning walk to work. ]

[Caption: I sat and thought about rocks for a while. It was fun, and I needed a break from thinking about boulders. ]

[Caption: Here's another Radcliffe sculpture I pass every day. I like to think the statue is waving hello to me. ]