Finnish architect and designer Eero Saarinen was taken by Nivola’s unique ability to think in both architectural and artistic terms. He personally wrote to Nivola in 1959 to express his admiration for the artist’s work and to invite him to collaborate on his newest project: the Samuel F. B. Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Saarinen’s desire to create, as he describes in the note, “a whole atmosphere created by sculpture and bas-reliefs in relation to architecture,” was well-suited to Nivola’s way of working. The artist was asked to design 47 artworks. By the end of the project’s two-year duration this was reduced to 35, still marking it as one of the artist’s most extensive commissions for a public space. In 1960, Nivola created an untitled model in preparation for this project. This work, on view, is unique within the exhibition space, as it is comprised of both a positive and negative relief. Displayed side-by-side, these casts evoke the artist’s unique sandcasting process: Nivola’s ability to think in both positive and negative terms and
to imagine his work in scale indicates a mastery of both material and technique.