Late night Chair Stacker remains a mystery

One of the chair stackers as they complete their second row of stacking outside of Haines Hall around 10:45 p.m. Tuesday night. Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. Halle Steckel/The Occidental

It’s 10:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night, and the “Chair Stacker”* is visibly in motion.

In late January, chairs stacked up on top of each other, often in a Tetris-like formation, appeared in the gravel courtyard in front of Haines Residence Hall. Occidental’s resident Chair Stacker” posted their first picture on Instagram Feb. 15. The Instagram account @oxychairs has 186 followers as of March 2 and describes itself as a “modern chair art account.”

According to their Instagram page, there have been nine documented structures, and more that have not been posted, the Chair Stacker said. The account also posts Instagram stories with photos of students posing with the sculptures.

In front of Haines, the Chair Stacker and their partner emerge from the shadows. First, they set a base of approximately five or six chairs, then figure out ways to align additional chairs vertically, one on top of another. The formation changes multiple times as they work quickly.

Around 10:52 p.m., an Occidental student shouts at the Chair Stacker and their partner.

“I’m a big fan,” the student said.

Chair stacking masterpiece outside of Haines Hall. Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. Halle Steckel/The Occidental

The structure has reached approximately 10 to 15 feet as the duo works together to balance chairs high up. By 11:01 p.m., the Chair Stacker and their partner had vacated the scene. A cluster of people soon gathered by the structure, taking pictures of themselves sitting in a chair underneath.

The Chair Stacker’s Instagram first gained recognition around campus after a post featuring a structure between Fowler Hall and Johnson Hall. The Chair Stacker and their partner remain anonymous as of March 2, even on Occidental’s small campus. Ada Rosen (first year) referred to the Chair Stacker as the “Oxy Banksy.”

Collin Nascimento (sophomore), who lives in Haines, said the chair sculptures are often the highlight of his day.

“I walk by them every day and it’s always something new,” Nascimento said. “I love it.”

Maia Hutcheson-Jones (first year) said she ran into the Chair Stacker and their co-conspirators on her way back from a late night at the library.

“I wasn’t expecting to see anybody. It was around 1:45 a.m., and I was chuckling [to] myself on my phone. I heard people, so I looked out and all I saw was four people staring at me,” Hutcheson-Jones said. “They looked as if they were statues just holding chairs.”

The Chair Stacker said their project originated out of a need for a study break.

“I just decided to go out and walk around,” the Chair Stacker said. “I was like, ‘Hey, there are all these chairs around and I don’t really see people using them all the time,’ so I figured I’ll just make something out of it.”

The sculptures vary in size but typically take around 20 to 30 minutes to construct, according to the Chair Stacker.

“It almost feels like a big game of Jenga,” the Chair Stacker said. “Sometimes you accidentally bump into the bottom and all of it just falls.”

According to the Chair Stacker, it has been exciting to see their Instagram account grow in a short time period.

“The response has been really positive. It’s fun to see a bunch of just random college kids get excited about stacking chairs because it’s just random sh*t,” the Chair Stacker said.

In terms of getting caught in the act, the Chair Stacker said they are not extremely worried about the potential consequences.

“I have thought about if it’s a nuisance for them to take down,” the Chair Stacker said. “Am I inconveniencing someone? It’s supposed to be temporary.”

According to the Chair Stacker, the quickest turnaround — from the completion of the sculpture to when it was taken down — was only five hours and occurred during the Chair Stacker’s biggest project to date, the sculpture between Fowler Hall and Johnson Hall.

“That actually was kind of an ordeal because I was again trying to move quickly, and there were like 20 chairs. So I had to carry six a trip, and it took probably about 10 or 15 minutes just to move them all,” the Chair Stacker said. “I feel like that raises the stakes a little bit. If the whole thing takes longer, the odds of me getting caught go up.”

Nascimento said he usually sees the student stack chairs after midnight. According to the Chair Stacker, the area in front of Haines is quiet at night, allowing them to work without drawing much attention.

Nascimento said he has never seen them working, but is not interested in discovering the true identity of the Chair Stacker.

“I’d rather leave it a mystery,” Nascimento said.

The Chair Stacker said they enjoy the anonymity.

“It’s more fun to kind of just know that the sculptures appear and it could be anyone who just walks through the area,” the Chair Stacker said.

The Chair Stacker said they are considering doing a more public structure in front of the Marketplace or on the quad, potentially opening up the stacking to whoever wants to help.

“My goal at the end of the day is just to entertain people,” The Stacker said. “I’ll either someday get caught — or maybe not.”

*The Occidental has omitted the student’s name in accordance with our anonymous source policy. For more information on anonymity, visit our Frequently Asked Questions.