Art doesn’t just hang on a wall. Art professor Bill Bennett—with help from members of the local sculpture community, including Edward Miller and Joseph Schepps—transformed an old hay wagon into Byron’s Telescope, an interactive sculpture that audience members can climb into. A chain hoist lifts a coffin-like box and the view through a six-inch “telescope” changes dizzyingly. “Inside the chamber your perspective changes, you feel yourself being lifted, gravity shifts on your body and you come out feeling changed,” says Schepps. The name of the sculpture was inspired by the poet Lord Byron’s 1811 visit to astronomer William Herschel’s early telescope, which was 40 feet long. Byron wrote of the experience, “I viewed the moon and the stars and saw that they were worlds.”
“Our telescope is more poetic than actual, so we named it Byron’s rather than Herschel’s,” says Schepps.
The sculpture was shown—and used—on the Downtown Mall and at the Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative in Charlottesville during the summer.