Alyson Shotz (U.S.A., b. 1964)
Welded aluminum frame, acrylic with dichroic lamination
Credit Line
Made possible through the generosity of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, Alan and Elene Yeung, Paul and Mildred Berg, and many School of Medicine faculty members and departments in honor of Philip A. Pizzo, MD, who led the school with distinction as the Carl and Elizabeth Naumann Dean from 2001 to 2012.

The iridescent latticework sculpture Three Fold by Alyson Shotz seems to float to the ceiling of the second floor Yang and Yamazaki Lobby in the Li Ka Shing Center, belying its immense weight; the 56-foot-long, 20-foot-wide sculpture composed of three separate pieces weighs more than 3,000 pounds.

The artist describes Three Fold as “sort of an upside down conceptual topography of the imagination.” Shotz goes on to say, “I’ve had a longstanding interest in topology and folding, and the way that shapes can be manipulated and stretched or deformed into other shapes without cutting or tearing them. In the case of Three Fold, each section of the sculpture is the same shape folded and stretched three different ways. Folding is a process that is found all over the natural world and is crucial in biology. For example, before proteins are folded they exist as non-dimensional structures; after folding they become three dimensional and functional structures. In parallel, when I made my drawings for Three Fold, the lines were non-dimensional, almost conceptual objects. I had to expand the lines in order to get a three dimensional functional sculpture.”

Also crucial to Three Fold is the experience of change, light and color. Because of the properties of the dichroic material, which is actually transparent, the sculpture changes color throughout the day as the sun moves across the sky. The movement of the viewer around the piece also changes his or her experience of color and shape. The spaces and the solid parts of the sculpture are equally important and affect each other, and perception is heightened the longer one looks at this work.

The rippling form began as a drawing of lines on a grid. Shotz used 3D modeling software to stretch and fold the structure until she reached a series of three complex wave-like shapes that retained the linear character of their conception. A fabricator, DCM Fabrication in Brooklyn, created shop drawings from which the aluminum and acrylic pieces were cut and then assembled into sections. The sections were moved across the country to the Stanford campus in a tractor-trailer. Shotz and a team of art installation experts installed the piece in the Li Ka Shing Center over a two-week period.

Three Fold is dedicated to the former dean of the School of Medicine, Philip A. Pizzo, MD, who created the medical school’s art committee in 2011 and was dean from 2001 to 2012.