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Lifelike Sculptures Shape 65th Anniversary

An amused observer looks at Things to Do, a sculpture at the corner of Hoover and 27th streets.

Photo/Julie Bissell

The USC Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy marked its 65th anniversary this year. Established in 1942, the division has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 1 program in the United States since the beginning of the magazine’s rankings nine years ago.

The division found an intriguing way to commemorate its milestone via a unique collaboration with acclaimed American sculptor J. Seward Johnson. Perhaps Trojans recently have seen his work, even doing a double take while walking across campus.

Johnson’s three sculptures feature a young woman relaxing on the lawn with a good book; two painters busily working on an assigned task; and a woman chatting on a cell phone while seated on a park bench.

Occupational science and occupational therapy links the relationship of daily activities to health and well-being across the lifespan and in a broad array of settings, including homes, hospitals, schools, workplaces and community centers.

For his part, Johnson is famous for creating life-sized trompe l’oeil human bronze sculptures that have been exhibited in international museums and placed in public spaces such as Times Square and Rockefeller Center in New York City.

Johnson’s friendship with Florence Clark, the associate dean of occupational science and occupational therapy at USC, created the opportunity for his sculptures to be placed on the University Park campus.

“Johnson is our muse,” Clark said. “His work embodies our mission and what we do as occupational scientists and occupational therapists. We are honored to have the chance to show his work here.”

The three sculptures on display through the end of December are Summer Thinking in Founders Park; So, the Bishop Said to the Actress at Taper Hall on Trousdale Parkway; and Things to Do, at the corner of Hoover and 27th streets.

As for other activities tied to the anniversary, the division hosted a grand alumni reunion in conjunction with Trojan Parents Weekend in October. And in a Nov. 9 program sponsored through the USC arts and humanities initiative Visions and Voices, the division hosted a panel discussion titled “Slowing Down the Fast New World.” Moderated by USC professor Gelya Frank, a panel focused on how technology and a fast-paced lifestyle inhibit our mental and physical well-being.

The panelists included Peter Whybrow, director of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA; Robert Gottlieb, director of the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College; Evan Kleiman, founder of Slow Food Los Angeles and owner of Angeli Caffe; and writer/photographer Paula Stoeke, executive director of The Sculpture Foundation.

“We wanted our events to be enjoyed by our USC family,” Clark said. “It was our way of giving back.”

Lifelike Sculptures Shape 65th Anniversary

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