Polaris / 2013 / Minkema College / commission / Municipality of Woerden


This two-part artwork was created for Minkema College’s new building in Woerden. Each part of the piece was designed for one of the two atria in the building, respectively.  


The new school building was designed by Ector Hoogstad Architecten. It consists of a highly-symmetrical rectangular complex. The central auditorium on the ground floor is flanked by two atria that are four storeys high. For each space, Michiel Kluiters designed a spherical sculpture that reflects the school’s identity, which can be summed up as ‘unity through diversity’. Both sculptures are real eye-catchers that convey a surprising number of meanings, using both words and imagery.  


The first sculpture is a large, geometric sphere made of numerous reflective surfaces, hanging in the atrium like an alien comet. It visually splits the room into fragments that no longer connect to one another. The sculpture simultaneously brings all the facets together.   The second sculpture captures the identity of the school using words. In the old building, a wall displayed a text that declared that it was not the various religious and cultural backgrounds that were the unifying factor between the students, but the fact that they were young. Kluiters adorned this second sculpture with this text. This sculpture is also spherical, and was inspired by the shape of an armillary sphere, an astronomical model used by astronomers and scientists, and which has been used a symbol of knowledge.  


Furthermore, Polaris also refers to ‘polarisation’, ‘opposite poles’, or the ‘pole star’ (the mirror ball) vs. an object that measures the movements of planets and stars. In terms of interpretation, objects share a beautiful connection, but in terms of their shape and materials, they are also polar opposites: the ‘pole star’ reflects, while the viewer’s gaze passes right through the armillary sphere.  


The project was made possible by the financial support of the Mondriaan Fund and the Municipality of Woerden.