Woolsey Hall’s interactive outdoor art is a conversation starter

Two uniquely interactive sculptures have been installed next to Woolsey Hall as part of the Ulrich Museum of Art’s world-class Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection.

The two sculptures — “Ernest and Ruth” (2015) — double as a bench and have the unmistakable shape of a speech bubble. Two of these sculptures are located slightly off the main traffic area leading up to Woolsey Hall to encourage interaction. “Ernest and Ruth” was created by the artist Hank Willis Thomas. Many of Thomas’ playfully conceptual works co-opt ubiquitous pop culture symbols to inspire deeper reflection on society’s norms and beliefs.

Thomas’ art is the first work by an African American artist in the Ulrich Museum’s Martin H. Bush Outdoor Sculpture Collection. It is not, however, his first work represented in the Ulrich collection. Thomas’ 2009 series of 20 paintings titled “I Am a Man” is a key work that the museum recently lent to the artist’s large-scale traveling mid-career retrospective.