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  • They're rockin' and rollin' in Princeton's Quark Park
    By: Hilary Parker, Staff Writer 07/14/2006
    Staff photo by Mark Czajkowski
    Sculptor Nancy Cohen, left, and assistant Julia Speed check the position of a design element of a piece that will soon be installed in Quark Park.
    Outdoor sculpture garden starts to take shape behind Hulfish Street garage.

       Quark Park — the outdoor sculpture garden featuring exhibitions from 12 scientist-artist teams — is on a roll as it gears up to fill the rocky vacant lot behind the Hulfish Street parking garage.
       "We're rockin' and rollin'," said Kevin Wilkes, creator of Quark Park along with Alan Goodheart and Peter Soderman.
       The three men previously teamed up in 2004 to bring the Writer's Block urban garden to the same space. Though the location of both gardens is the same, Quark Park has little else in common with its predecessor, Mr. Wilkes said.
       Installation of the sculptures in the garden is currently under way and should be completed by the end of this month, he said. Though the official opening will be held Sept. 9, the public will be able to visit the garden in late July and throughout the month of August, he said.
       After transporting a series of metal armatures from sculptor Nancy Cohen's Jersey City studio on Thursday, Quark Park participants began installing the sculptural elements that support the work Ms. Cohen created, in collaboration with Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and the university's William and Edna Macaleer Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, James Sturm.
       Based loosely on research into how the brain receives and processes smells, the sculpture is nothing like the realistic models of cells that students create in biology classes across the country, Ms. Cohen said.
       "I'm not interested at all in making a 3-D representation of a large model," she said. "It's much more playful and lyrical — and definitely abstract."
       The finished project will feature a curved metal wall opposite a large metal bulb, Ms. Cohen said, connected by wires linking hundreds of translucent, colorful objects that cover each of the two forms. Featuring intricate engineering by Professor Sturm and his students, some of the connecting wires will light up unexpectedly, she said.
       While the sculpture was inspired by the body's ability to detect scents — appropriately, she noted, the garden around the piece will include subtly fragrant plants — it is ultimately about connection, according to Ms. Cohen.
       This connection, it seems, is found between cells in the body and the artists and scientists at work on Quark Park.
       "There's a lot of communication and coordination and interchange," she said, adding that she has treasured the chance to interact closely with other people — a rare opportunity for people in both the sciences and the arts, she said, who are often isolated in the pursuit of their own interests.
       "It's very exciting to enter someone else's world," Ms. Cohen said, "to think about what they're thinking."

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