• Elements Maquette
  • Installing in the traffic circle at the entrance to Christopher Newport University and Shoe Lane.
  • Installing in the traffic circle at the entrance to Christopher Newport University and Shoe Lane.
  • Block of marble used to create Elements.
  • Fabrication
  • Inger Sannes working on fabrication.
  • Elements, photo by Alexander Kravets



Elements’ journey began high in Italy’s Carrara Mountains, where sculptor Inger Sannes went to select the marble through which she could express the idea she wanted to share with Newport News.

The massive 44-ton block was cut from the mountain, hauled down to Pietrasanta, where artists and artisans have been making sculpture since the days of Michelangelo, and installed at the legendary Studio Sem. Painstakingly, everything that was not Elements was chiseled away, until all that was left was the physical manifestation of Sannes’ vision for a piece to grace the roundabout in front of the library at a university that is in the process of transforming itself and the area round it.

In that context, the very abstract idea which Sannes communicates through very concrete stone takes on meaning and significance. She often incorporates two elements into her sculpture, as she explores how we can develop and grow, how we can branch off in new directions while staying true to our core selves. In this piece, you will notice one element that is firmly anchored to the base and one that is not. The two elements also express, as Sannes explains in the Audio Tour, the dynamic of the university, solidly based in knowledge and history, educating students who can develop new ideas and new lives out in the world.

Audio Tour: Hear Sannes tell you about her piece

Newport News Television Video: Unveiling Elements

Transcription of Audio Tour:
Hi, I am Inger Sannes, a Norwegian living in Stockholm, and working in Studio Sem in Pietrasanta, Italy, where I am creating sculptures in marble and bronze.

In 2006, I started working on the model on Elements, the marble sculpture you find in front of you.

The marble block was about 88,000 pounds when we started in the quarry.  And the sculpture as you see it here is about 26,000 pounds.

Elements expresses the fine balance between Christopher Newport University and the students. The heavy form represents the knowledge, the history, and the capability of the university. The light form represents the students and the new ideas. The relationship between the two forms is essential. None of them can stand by themselves.

Art students from Christopher Newport University were actively involved in the project, visiting Pietrasanta and Studio Sem and arranging a beautiful show at the inauguration with photos and models from the creation process.

Artist: Inger Sannes

Details: Marble, 11.5′ high. Carved at Studio Sem, Pietrasanta, Italy. Installed 2008
Site: Christopher Newport University, intersection of Avenue of the Arts and Shoe Lane.

About The Artist: INGER SANNES

Some sculptors start early on the artistic path, expressive as children, pursuing degrees in fine arts. Sannes took a more circuitous route. She earned degrees in nursing and human resources and a master’s in healthcare administration in her native Norway, and went on to administer a national institute for children with lung diseases. Then she took a detour through the world of business, becoming a manager with a large international consulting firm and a principal with IBM.

Today, however, she is at home in a marble studio in Pietrasanta, Italy, having traded corporate style for rugged clothes that can withstand marble dust and the eyewear demanded by the power tools in her hands. She divides her time between North Tuscany and her home and studio in Stockholm.

Sannes explains, however, that the jump is not as big as it appears, “since I have always worked with my hands and in everything I undertake, my intuition and creativity is paramount to my success.” The lure — the necessity, even — of sculpture for Sannes is evident: “Through sculpting I can better reflect on life and express the deepest of my dreams and imagination.” Surrounded by the inanimate, she is very much about life, working “to capture life when shaping the stone.”

Sannes’ work is in corporate and private collections in Sweden, Norway, France, England, Luxemburg, Hong Kong, Italy and the United States.

Sanne’s website: inger-sannes.se