Building isn’t just for architects

art house idea

The design of “Building Ethics” includes splashes of orange, blue, yellow and purple. Words such as idea, Question and Kindness are printed on the boards as well as the phrase, “This is a metaphor.” Images of human hearts and lungs find their place on the planks alongside the words and a photo of the anatomy of an ant can be seen inside the sculpture too.

The Lion’s Roar / Heather Jewell

The Southeastern art department has made history when this summer, for the first time, they teamed up with a nonprofit organization outside of the school, and alongside artist Cedar Lorca Nordbye, creating “Building Ethics.” 

Constructed of painted and printed lumber, the structure forms a loose outline of a house, with sporadically spaced construction tools throughout and around the perimeter of the instillation. According to Gallery Director Dale Newkirk, it has been a practice since the 1960’s that such structures would resemble temporary stage sets.

“When you come into the building, the sculpture instillation is open, and viewers can go into the building it creates,” said Newkirk.

The exhibit will be on display until Friday, August 21 and has two phases. All the wood they used for the project was received through either donation or grants. 

The first phase is still underway; the structure’s intent is to combine print making and sculpture with the intent of social engagement. “Building Ethics’” creation was a combined effort by Nordbye, who proposed different architecture styles during his two visits, Southeastern students who were enrolled in summer classes within the art department, department staff members, and other volunteers. Newkirk felt that since there was a low attendance, it benefitted the students more.

“The creation of the structure was a part of students’ classroom hours. It was an opportunity to engage them,” said Newkirk.

The exhibit is not only meant to be an art instillation, but a call to social action as well. In the second phase, after the exhibit is taken down, all of the boards will be donated and used in the construction of a home. Building the home is The Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing; receiving the home will be Daphne Vernon, and her son Alex, 4. Vernon is a single working mother, and this project gives them their own place to call home.

Nordbye was raised in California and attended New Hampshire College and the University of Iowa. Now, he is the associate professor of art at the University of Memphis.

This is not the first time Nordbye has done a project similar to “Building Ethics.” In the last year, he has accomplished two smaller projects while partnered with Habitat for Humanity. The houses completed for the afore mentioned projects were erected in his current home of Memphis, Tennessee and one in Lexington, Kentucky as well.

Nordbye has dreamt for nearly two decades of completing a project of this scale, using painted and printed planks to transform the outside appearance of a house into something other than the run of the mill look.

The design includes splashes of orange, blue, yellow and purple. Words such as Idea, Question and Kindness are printed on boards as well as the phrase, “This is a metaphor.” 

When someone is standing inside the structure itself prior to making their way out to the front again, over the door frame is the verse, “Arise, shine, for the light has come and the glory of The Lord rides upon you.”

The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information on upcoming exhibits, contact the SELU Art Department at

art house

When someone is standing within the structure itself, prior to making their way out to the front, over the door frame is the bible verse, “Arise, shine, for the light of The Lord rides upon you.” Isaiah 60:1. Along the sides are other statements like “The Lord’s strength is sufficient for you.”
The Lion’s Roar / Heather Jewell