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Claremont McKenna College dedicates extraordinary glass sculpture by celebrated artist Pae White as latest installment in its Public Art Program

A 250-foot-long glass sculpture known as Qwalala and created by American artist Pae White, will be unveiled on Claremont McKenna College’s campus on Sept. 20th as the latest installment in the campus’ public art program.


“Qwalala is a stunning new addition to Claremont McKenna’s campus and our Public Arts Program which seeks to integrate arts into all aspects of campus life and augment and enhance our core institutional values as a residential liberal arts college,” said Kimberly Shiring, director of the program.

“For an artist, it is a unique opportunity to create for a college campus,” said White, a 1985 graduate of Scripps College. “Not only are colleges active at night, but they also are home to minds that are inquisitive and open.”

The artwork’s name is derived from the Pomo tribe describing the meandering path of the Gualala River on the northern coast of California. Comprised of more than 1,500 glass bricks, each weighing nearly 40 pounds and hand-forged by Italian artisans in a palette of 26 colors, the sculpture reaches nearly 8-feet-tall at its highest point and features two archways. Qwalala changes visually throughout the day as light and shadows cast upon clear and colored glass bricks, creating a “storm”-like effect of swirling color, while remaining transparent.

“The piece began as an exploration of dematerializing the massive, finding a way to complicate the solidity of a brick by merging it with something more ephemeral, like a scent or cloud or a passing storm,” White said. "My work has often involved capturing the fleeting, immaterial—things easily overlooked, neglected, or forgotten—and exposing them, elevating them, even monumentalizing them. In this piece, the neutral anonymity of a masonry wall disappears, replaced by a spectrum of individual, and somewhat uncertain elements of storm bricks.”

The seventh addition to the College’s Public Art Program, Qwalala was supported by several members of the CMC Board of Trustees and representatives of the College’s Public Art Subcommittee. Since 2015, the Public Art Program has enriched CMC’s campus, with works by Chris Burden, Carol Bove, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeppe Hein, and Mary Weatherford.

The sculpture’s dedication is open to the public and will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 20th, at 5:30 p.m. at Claremont McKenna College, Mid Quad, 888 N Columbia Ave, Claremont, CA 91711.

About Claremont McKenna College:
Claremont McKenna College is a private liberal arts college located east of Los Angeles in Southern California. Since 1946, the College’s mission has been to prepare students for thoughtful and productive lives and responsible leadership in business, government, and the professions. Claremont McKenna attracts a student body that is broadly diverse and accomplished beyond the classroom. Renowned for expertise in economics and government, Claremont McKenna’s faculty are accomplished scholars who are committed teachers in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. Students are drawn by the College’s unparalleled offerings, including: 11 research institutes and centers; the ability to conduct research one-on-one with faculty; and access to leaders, artists, and visionaries who engage with students at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum. The College emphasizes the integration of leadership and innovation experience within institutes, student enterprises, on-campus fellowships, and sponsored off-campus internships. Claremont McKenna is a 1,300-student, coeducational, residential, liberal arts college in Claremont, California, and is a member of The Claremont Colleges. For more information, visit

About the Artist:
Pae White makes artwork that emerges from material experimentation, an approach that often pairs high tech and artisanal craft to ephemeral objects and quotidian subjects. Over the past decades she has created an expansive body of work that includes sculpture, painting, site-specific installation, furniture, architecture, and graphic design. Her subjects and imagery might include smoke, color, popcorn, time, plants, moonlight, birdcalls, bugs, and clip art—elements that inspire her “exploration of the neglected, the forgotten, the spaces between things.” Common materials are often used to uncommon ends, for example in the way the artist has made artworks with neon, ceramic, string, birdseed, and glass. As well, White has adapted centuries-old techniques with 21st century digital technology as with her recent series of tapestries. A native of Pasadena, White lives in Los Angeles and is a 1985 Scripps College graduate.


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