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Runner as Cheetah as Runner

Dynamic art at FitRec accompanies joggers


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

“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.

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


5 Comments on Runner as Cheetah as Runner

  • Anonymous on 05.04.2009 at 9:30 am

    The Mystery is Revealed

    I run laps around the track at FitRec every week. One day, I noticed the first figure appear, a human in a sprinter position. It looked incomplete on its own. I was pleased to see the transformation the next time I went to the track.

    I had wondered who commissioned the piece, and think it’s a great opportunity for student artists to get their artwork seen by a large population.

    As an athlete who frequents the track at FitRec, I think it really does make a difference to be surrounded by artwork. Every little distraction–from the artwork to the large windows with a view of the city–keeps me going.

  • Anonymous on 05.04.2009 at 1:33 pm

    Great Work!

    Thank you for featuring this work, I’ve been wondering about it since I first started to see it appear. I love the added touch to the track, it makes for more dynamic, interesting run. The Site Specific Art class is a wonderful asset to BU. Kudos to all involved!

  • Anonymous on 05.05.2009 at 9:11 am

    The direction of the art

    As site specific art, maybe FitRec should change the direction the runners travel on the track to be counter-clockwise – that way the runners would be aligning themselves with the artisticly depicted evolution, rather than running the other direction and de-evolving.

  • Anonymous on 05.05.2009 at 9:23 pm


    very nice job!
    i am so proud of you, mr. MATSUJAKI!

  • Anonymous on 10.27.2009 at 2:36 am

    Very interesting article,thanks

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