Art attack

As the Year of the Monkey dawns, mysterious glass balls turn up on campus and all over town

by Ethan Chung '04

“Gung Hey Fat Choy,” which means “may you become prosperous,” is a greeting used during Chinese New Year. When the Year of the Monkey arrived on Jan. 22, a number of people on campus found that the saying was prophetic: They discovered art hidden in bushes and trees all over the college grounds.

The objects were the work of a group of Tacoma glass-blowing artists calling themselves the Monkey Shines Project. On the eve of Chinese New Year they hid 250 handmade glass balls around Tacoma, from Point Defiance to downtown. The balls varied in color and size, and each bore the impression of a monkey face.

Library Acquisitions Specialist Nancy Piercy ’76 spotted one of the balls in a tree near the back entrance of the library when she arrived for work. Piercy recalled a television news story she had seen, explaining that the Monkey Shines Project planted the glass balls to celebrate the Year of the Monkey, but also to turn Tacoma residents’ attention away from their busy lives.

A frantic hunt for more of the orbs ensued. “It made for interesting coffee breaks and lunch hours here in the library,” Piercy said, “with everyone out scouring the campus. It was like finding treasure. We found them all over, in bushes, trees, one near Wheelock, and even one near the communications office.”

Nine staff members and students found 13 balls. A few of the library staff keep the art on their desks, or on bookshelves and window sills in their work areas.

“I took mine home and bring them back whenever anyone asks to see them,” Piercy said.