Colorful look at “gray box”

Having actually witnessed the installation and celebration of the “gray box” I may be qualified enough to comment on this sculpture. As a kid, I used to hike the hills before they were transformed by Northern Kentucky University. As an art student, I was naturally curious about Judd and his art.

At its debut, the box was not gray but highly polished. Surrounded by trees that had once offered shade to an old farmhouse, it gleaned in the intermittent sunlight.

It was controversial, but so was the architecture of the concrete buildings that ringed it and the trees. I heard then that Judd was not completely pleased with the site designated for the sculpture. It had to do with the trees. Without them, his sculpture would be better viewed and understood. It was good that they were allowed to stay. They are nature, the box is human-made – no mystery, but beauty.

Down the hill from the trees a farm lake offered peaceful repose to a busy college campus. Students would lounge in the pastures surrounding the lake. As buildings grew and were named, the lake was given a name, Lake Inferior. It was the only feature at NKU which administration allowed to be named by student’s popular vote.

Now encircled in concrete and split in half by a concrete spillway, the ducks and geese appear not to mind the lake’s makeover and name change. They go about and do their business like their ancestors.

It’s good that they are allowed to stay. They are nature, the lake is human-made – no mystery, but beauty.

Steve Roth Class of 1980