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Runner as Cheetah as Runner

Revisiting the year’s visual arts: Dynamic art at FitRec accompanies joggers

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Watch the video above to learn more about Ryoji Matsuzaki’s work at FitRec. (Below) A preliminary sketch from Matsuzaki’s project.

Some pieces hang in a museum for centuries, others never make it out of a studio. Some reside on stretched canvas, others on an urban wall. Some rely on paint, others on electrons. But all good art deserves more than one good look. So this week, we’re resurrecting some of our arts coverage from the academic year just concluded, offering one a day — vitamins for the spirit.

“FitRec is a beautiful space,” says Warin Dexter, executive director of physical education, recreation, and dance, “and art breathes the individual character of BU students into the building. It inspires, motivates, and captures the attention of our community.”

And so, since 2006, the Boston University Fitness and Recreation Center has combined workouts with original artwork from students in the Site Specific Art course taught by Hugh O’Donnell, a College of Fine Arts professor.

The work of graphic arts major Ryoji Matsuzaki (CFA’10) is the latest to adorn the walls. He credits a passion for marathon running and technology as dual inspirations for The Evolution Within, his two-dimensional, pixilated vinyl representation of a human sprinter that transforms into a cheetah, then back into human form.

“Boston winters force me to run indoors,” says Matsuzaki. “It can get really repetitive running 30 laps around a track. And with large white walls — a blank canvas — I wanted to create an abstract representation of the personal growth of a sprinter.”

The Site Specific Art class was designed by O’Donnell in 1998 to instruct students in creating artwork for public and private clients, on and off campus. The first two commissioned pieces at FitRec were Emerging Swimmer (oil on canvas, 2006), by Ryan Elizabeth Kenney (COM’07), and Sneaker Mountain (acrylic, 2007), by Josef Kristofoletti III (CFA’07). Student artwork from the class has also been featured in Warren Towers, in the Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering, and on signs for the MBTA.

This story originally ran May 4, 2009.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

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