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Damaged Langara art sparks mystery

Damage to metal frogs raises questions

Photo by Christina College
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Reported by Christina Dommer

Fine arts student Tina Nguyen stands next to one of four pieces of A Leap in the Right Direction. This particular frog is located just outside the fine arts department’s pottery shed. Photo by Christina Dommer.

Who or what damaged several giant frogs on Langara’s campus remains a mystery.

The four steel frogs, which stand waist high and were installed as pieces of public art by a student in the fine arts department, were found bent over and disfigured shortly after the winter break.

The creator, fine arts student Tina Nguyen, said she doesn’t think that the artworks could have been damaged by the 70 km/h winds that rolled in during the holidays, because they’re made from thick metal.

“I kind of doubt it was just the wind, might have been vandalism,” Nguyen said.

The art installation, known as A Leap in the Right Direction, was cut out of 10-gauge hot rolled steel using electric current.  The frogs were distributed to several spots around the campus.

At the beginning of the semester, some of the frogs were found bent over on the leg they stood on.

Simran Basra, a student taking chemistry at Langara, thought the damage to the sculptures muddled the artwork’s message.

“It’s disrupting [Nguyen’s] original idea,” Basra said.

One steel frog by the fountain was even uprooted from the ground.

“They are bolted to the ground with three half-inch steel bolts,” Nguyen said. “Which is impressive, to say the least, that someone’s strong enough to just pick them up and push them around.”

But the head of public art for the city of Vancouver, Eric Fredericksen, explained the weather causes significant damage to public art around the city.

“We have a fairly active maintenance program in response to things being in the public realm and taking damage over the years through wear and tear and the elements,” Fredericksen said.  “Even non-extreme (weather) can cause that.”

Most of the time, it is difficult to know how damage occurs to anything in public space.

“If someone writes their name on something in spray-paint then you have an idea what might have happened,” Fredericksen said.  “A lot of stuff happens over the holidays or in the middle of the night when nobody is around.”

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