GVSU to reinstall ‘wrecking ball’ sculpture

Grand Valley’s notorious “wrecking ball” sculpture that was removed after students rode it nude to parody Miley Cyrus’ wrecking ball music video will be reinstalled once safety repairs are made.

The sculpture garnered national attention and was removed on Sept. 17 due to safety concerns.

“It was all the talk at Grand Valley for a few days. It started trending all over social media sites including Twitter and Facebook,” Jaclyn Gritter, a Grand Valley nursing student said.

According to Gritter, students started protesting immediately after the removal, creating social media groups and holding live protests. A Facebook group named “Reinstall the Ball” was also created to follow the status of the “wrecking ball.”

“I attended one protest along with numerous students that went on at the site of where the wrecking ball was removed,” Gritter said. “The protesting included chants and singing Miley Cyrus’ songs ‘Wrecking Ball’ and ‘Party in the USA.’”

According to Tim Thimmesch, associate vice president for facilities services, the sculpture is actually a pendulum. The university had planned repairs including the replacement of the steel cable harness and the worn out eye bolt at the top of the pendulum before the parody.

“The removal and parodies certainly created a lot of attention for GVSU and we are looking forward to the reinstallation,” Thimmesch said.

Throughout the removal and reinstallation process, GVSU administration has taken the national attention with a stroke of humor. “The administration had a good attitude towards the protest, realizing that it was out of humor not malice,” said Gritter.

Fellow GVSU nursing student Michelle Pavlak agrees. “Most students have responded with a combination of school pride mixed with amusement. Even Grand Valley administrators responded with humor.”

The wrecking ball will be replaced, but no specific time frame has been given. “Once the safety improvements have been completed, the university will reinstall the pendulum,” Thimmesch said.

According to Thimmesch, the pendulum was originally donated in 1973 and has been installed at two different locations at GVSU for 28 years. The pendulum was also in storage for 12 years prior to its current site.

“This was originally donated to the University as a Dale Eldred art sculpture and is also a representation of a Foucault pendulum,” Thimmesch said.

This is not the first time students have swung from the pendulum. Students have been riding it for years, although not often in the nude. “Many students have swung from the ‘wrecking ball’ and it has almost become a Grand Valley student ritual,” Pavlak said.

“I know it is like a ‘rite of passage’ for incoming freshman to ride it,” Gritter agreed.

According to Thimmesch, the artistic and scientific nature of the sculpture remains important. The sculpture remains a part of Grand Valley and will be reinstalled with the intention of students recognizing the sculpture’s importance.

“It was removed to allow time to review the current status of the pendulum and verify its structural integrity,” said Thimmesch. “We are looking to complete a safe installation that will allow the pendulum to be viewed as a scientific art exhibit.”