New York artist Kurt Perschke was smiling as he stood in front of the Student Alumni Center at UTHSC at noon Monday and watched people interact with his work.
Perschke is the creator of the RedBall Project, a unique art installation in the form of a 250-pound red, inflated ball that has traveled the globe. It has turned up in public places from Paris to Perth and Toledo to Toronto, inspiring spectators to photograph, discuss and connect with each other and their cities as a result.
The RedBall Project was brought to Memphis by the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art as part of its centennial celebration. Launched from the museum’s plaza on April 28, it will be installed in 10 locations around Memphis before ending its run May 7.
The daylong stop at UTHSC marked the halfway mark in its Memphis travels. Perschke said the campus has a unique spot in the Memphis run.
“This was the first site we found,” he said, describing early scouting for locations in the city. “I was interested in being in this area, and UTHSC is such an important place in the community,” he said.
The ball was positioned under the overhang of the walkway to the SAC nearest the street. It’s a structure that caught Perschke’s eye right off the bat. “An odd little concrete eave just waiting for a ball,” he Tweeted last week.
The space worked well for Monday’s event, as faculty, staff and students turned out for a group photo to show their civic pride. They got to show off some school spirit, too, by wearing orange.
The fact that the ball has traveled internationally, was a big factor in UTHSC’s being a host site for the installation, said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer at UTHSC. “It’s been at some noteworthy places, and we see our campus as being as noteworthy as any of those places,” he said.