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Ganson scultpture
A tiny cat and a chair collide in "Margot's Other Cat," a sculpture by Arthur Ganson '78. Photo by Doug Prince

Playing with Art

The thumb-sized red velvet sidechair hits a plastic Abyssinian cat and flies into the air, turning over and over before falling down and bouncing back toward the cat. Children giggle and point as the ballet is repeated over and over, but with the chair flying in a slightly different trajectory each time.

The flying chair sculpture is the latest work by artist Arthur Ganson '78. This creation pays playful tribute to Margot Clark, one of his early mentors in the UNH art department. "She loved cats," he explains, "and she lived in this Victorian house in Somersworth filled with period antiques."

In Ganson's world, machines walk and breathe and bathe themselves. A flying chair fits right in. His machines have attitude and invention. "I think a lot about movement and gesture," Ganson says. "I get most of my ideas when I'm just playing and being childlike in my meanderings." Ganson transforms a collection of mechanical parts -- wire and steel, chains and pipe, motors and oil -- and found objects -- eggshells, a doll's head, a radio -- into sculptures that delight. Adults as well as children at his UNH Art Gallery show this spring laughed out loud at some of his creations.

An art major, Ganson has never taken an engineering course. "All of my engineering is intuitive. The challenge is to solve the mechanical problem and to serve the idea. The mechanical parts, the shape have to be less important than what the sculpture is communicating."

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