AU Campus getting sculpted scenes that represent its history and mission

AUBURN – Auburn’s history dates back to 1856, and in the years since, its colleges and schools have carved out unique memories for their students and alumni.

University officials are seeking to reflect upon that history by placing sculpted panels on pedestrian walkway entry portals, with each scene depicting the history and mission of the nearest AU school or college.

“This is a form of public art that captures the many facets of Auburn,” said Catherine Love of AU’s Office of Campus Planning and Space Management. “The portals will also have terra cotta rosettes copied from those on Samford Hall.”

The entry portals will have two 10-foot-high columns, with each column having four 18-by-24-inch panels, one on each side, showing various aspects of a college and its related professions. As matching columns, they will have the same four panels, but on different sides.

The first two sets of panels, representing the Harrison School of Pharmacy and the College of Sciences and Mathematics, were added to columns last week at the west end of Thach pedestrian corridor and at the east end of Roosevelt pedestrian corridor, respectively.

Pharmacy’s images include a mortar and pestle, patient and pharmacist, opium poppy, and serpent and chalice, which is the traditional symbol of the practice of pharmacy. Depicting the College of Sciences and Mathematics are an astronomer, microbiologist with a microscope, mathematician, and chemist.

“We are planning to expand this program to include all 13 colleges and schools, as more portals and pedestrian facilities are constructed,” Love said. “It is a step toward our goal of improving the beauty and interest of our outdoor spaces.”

Associate professor of art Gary Wagoner and his former student, Joanna Campbell Blake, who worked with sculptor Raymond Kaskey on the World War II Monument in Washington, D.C., are designing and sculpting the panels.

“The deans give us photos or a list of themes they feel best portray their schools,” said Wagoner. “Joanna and I work collaboratively on the designs, which are drawn to scale, transferred to an oil-based clay and then sculpted in relief.”

Blake, a 1999 Auburn graduate, sculpts in her Washington studio and sends molds of the elements sculpted to Auburn, where Wagoner creates and fires the finished terra cotta panels in the studio. The molds are being saved for possible future reproductions as well.

“To have such artistic talent as that of Gary and Joanna right here at Auburn University makes this project all the more special,” Love added.

(Contributed by Charles Martin.)

Contact: Catherine Love, (334) 844-9579 (lovecat@auburn.edu), or
Charles Martin, (334) 844-9999 (marticd@auburn.edu)