Wade Oval University Circle
Wade Oval is a public park at the center of University Circle, where several of Cleveland’s major cultural institutions, including the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the Cleveland Botanical Garden, are located. It is a gathering place and high-traffic public site used by families and children, as well as a site for summer festivals such as WOW! (Wade Oval Wednesdays).
Asad Raza’s public sculpture Orientation will inhabit Wade Oval for the duration of FRONT 2022. Part of a larger project, it aims to make legible Lake Erie’s past, present, and futures—its entwined rhythms, ecosystems, and communities. Orientation draws on the Indian astronomical observatories of Jantar Mantar, which were constructed in the early eighteenth century to track the sun, moon, and planets. A contemporary reinterpretation, Raza’s sculpture will function similarly to allow for viewing of shadows and the movements of heavenly bodies. Yet here it is connected intimately with its location: Orientation is constructed out of plaster formed from crushed Zebra and Quagga mussels trawled from Lake Erie, as well as sand, silt, reeds, and rubble. The whole sculpture is scaled for children, opening up an exploration of the stars to younger communities.
Accompanying this sculpture is The Delegation, a participatory, performative artwork by Raza that includes a sailing journey and a song. Embarking on a community-building trip from his hometown of Buffalo, New York to Cleveland over Lake Erie with a small group of local musicians, Raza and his companions will navigate the lake while collaboratively composing a new song inspired by Indigenous oral traditions and astronomical lore. Upon their landing in Cleveland for the opening of FRONT, this song will be performed publicly and then taught to pass along knowledge to others.
Raza’s work is deeply collaborative, and this project enmeshes the expertise of astronomers, Indigenous scholars, architects, maritime organizations, marine biologists, musicians, and poets. Addressing critical issues of our times—such as the stewardship of the planet—he seeks to develop collective shifts in perspective.