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Thursday, May 06, 2021

Student's cage art on campus stirs curiosity

Outside of a UF fine arts building, a human trap has been set.

More than 8 feet tall, the rusty steel cage waits quietly in the courtyard, the door pulled up and open.

Inside, a box welded to the bars of the cage contains a mystery, beckoning passers-by inside.

Meanwhile, Leslie Tharp, a sculpture major and creator of the cage, watches and listens as students gather to study or eat lunch in the courtyard and talk about her creepiest work of art.

Unofficially dubbed "The Human Cage," the sculpture was created last spring in a class that focused on sculpting with metals.

Only recently has it found its new home outside Fine Arts C.

"I've probably gotten more responses from this piece than any other - although, there was some nervous laughter when I first explained I was making a human trap," Tharp said.

The sculpture, which has attracted a growing amount of attention from curious students, was conceived as a response to mankind's attempt to control nature.

"I was thinking in terms of how people have tried to place control over the environment," she said.

People divide land into squares of property in an attempt to claim ownership while building "boxes" for shelter and laying cages to trap animals that trespass, she said.

Celeste Roberge, Tharp's professor who helped guide her on the project, said it came out just as Tharp intended.

"It puts you in the position of what it feels like to be a trapped animal," she said. "It's scary - it's a threatening object."

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For safety reasons, the door is frozen above the cage, unable to truly trap people.

"It's safe to go in," Tharp said. "You can even climb in it or on it. It's just top heavy."

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