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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Courtney Mattison’s “Revolve” in CCES

%E2%80%9CRevolve%E2%80%9D+by+Courtney+Mattison+located+in+the+Chandler+Center+for+Environmental+Studies.+The+art+piece+brings+awareness+to+coral+bleaching%2C+while+being+a+memorial+for+Sarah+MacGregor+Ruffin+%E2%80%9817.+Photo+courtesy+of+Anna+Lee+Hoffman.+
“Revolve” by Courtney Mattison located in the Chandler Center for Environmental Studies. The art piece brings awareness to coral bleaching, while being a memorial for Sarah MacGregor Ruffin ‘17. Photo courtesy of Anna Lee Hoffman.

The new art piece and its significance

As the environmental studies department begins its second school year inside the newly built Chandler Center for Environmental Studies, the building has recently become home to a new piece of art. “Revolve” by artist Courtney Mattison is on permanent display in the building’s seminar room. 

The art piece illustrates a coral reef in a swirling pattern, where the corals on the outside are painted white. Mattison creates large ceramic art pieces, like “Revolve” to bring awareness to the fragility of coral reef ecosystems and the detrimental effects that climate change can have on natural environments like these. 

The vibrant corals in the middle of the piece represent a healthy coral reef, while the white, bleached corals illustrate coral bleaching, a byproduct of climate change and rising sea temperatures. 

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“By tossing corals off the reef and swirling them up into the air, my work explores the uncertain fate of these fragile ecosystems in the face of climate change,” Mattison explained. “This work in particular is mostly colorful and diverse except for bleached (or sickened) white corals around the edges, implying that most of the reef is still quite healthy.” 

Mattison hopes that this art “inspires students to feel hopeful about finding creative solutions to climate change and uniting to protect the natural environments that are still resilient enough to survive.”

Through seeing this illustration of a coral reef on a large wall, Mattison wants viewers to feel engaged with the coral reef, as if they are hovering over the sea floor. 

This piece of art also holds more significance as it was donated to Wofford by the Sarah MacGregor Art Fund, in memory of Sarah MacGregor Ruffin ‘17 who lost her life in July 2016. 

Ruffin was an environmental studies major and studio art minor, known for her passions for social justice, art, and nature. During the planning stages of her capstone project for the environmental studies major, Ruffin was inspired by Mattison’s artwork and proposed a project that focused on portraying conservation through the use of ceramic art. 

“I’m deeply honored to know that my work resonated with MacGregor and may resonate with many other students on campus as a source of inspiration and a celebration of the beauty of marine life,” Mattison said. 

Ruffin’s parents gifted the art piece to Wofford in memory of their daughter, as a part of the Sarah MacGregor Ruffin Art Fund at Wofford College. In addition to “Revolve,” the large painting in Great Oaks Hall by artist Roger Nelson is a memorial for Ruffin. The painting illustrates a serene nature scene with personal narratives of Ruffin’s life embedded within it. 

The new art piece, “Resolve,” serves as a tribute to both Ruffin and her passions, while inspiring viewers to take action against climate change and the threats it poses to the natural world.

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