ShareThis Page
Art & Museums

Sculpture at Phipps links art and sustainability

| Friday, April 18, 2014, 6:11 p.m.
Artist Dee Briggs with her sculpture 6|6|3 rings at her studio in Wilkinsburg on April 11, 2014.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Artist Dee Briggs with her sculpture 6|6|3 rings at her studio in Wilkinsburg on April 11, 2014.

Dee Briggs has discovered a hidden benefit to creating a sculpture for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes at the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Garden.

“It is nice to have a work where you live because you can go over and see it every now and again,” says the sculptor, who has done work in places such as the Navy Pier in Chicago.

She has designed “6|3|3 Rings,” which is being installed in the atrium of the award-winning building at Phipps in Oakland.

Phipps Executive Director Richard Piacentini says the sculpture was sought for the site as a way of symbolizing “the way Phipps has shown the interconnection of various aspects of nature for 100 years now.”

He says the sculpture will be a centerpiece at the “Bowties & Butterflies” gala April 24, which also will feature an art-and-photography exhibit being installed at the center.

Piacentini and Briggs agree “6|3|3 Rings” is a sculptural representation of biophelia, or the instinctive bond between humans and other forms of life.

Briggs says the work, which is made of steel and is about 25 feet long and 6 to 8 feet wide, creates that interconnection though the use of panels that do not appear to be connected from some angles but do from others.

The work also makes use of the concept of chirality, or asymmetry, in which an object is not the same as its mirror image.

Such an intriguing work would appear to reflect the thinking of Piacentini, who says he wants the center to continue to grow and change in what it offers visitors.

“You just don't create a LEED Platinum building and stop,” he says.

The Center for Sustainable Landscapes, a building of education and office sites, opened in 2013 and was awarded LEED Platinum status for its energy efficiency. It has been a steady recipient of other awards, most recently the 2014 Global Best Project Award, which recognizes outstanding design and construction.

The work and its use of steel-oriented design also would seem to reflect the work of a sculptor who has a master's in architecture.

Briggs, whose studio is in Wilkinsburg, grew up in Burgettstown, Washington County, and in West Virginia. She went to City College of New York and got a master's at Yale University in Connecticut, returning to this area in 2003 to teach architecture at Carnegie Mellon University. She stopped teaching full-time in 2007 to concentrate on her sculpture and left teaching entirely in 2010.

She says she first noticed a request for a proposal for the Phipps project in the fall and was surprised at how quickly the conservatory made its decision.

“It was a short time for such a substantial sculpture,” she says. “Often you make a proposal and it is months before you hear anything.”

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 412-320-7852.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me