Public Art on Campus by Former Artists-in-Residence

Posted on January 01, 2014 by Kristin Swan

Hood Quarterly, winter 2014

The lasting impact of Dartmouth's Artist-in-Residence Program is keenly felt in the works of public art that visiting artists have made to embellish the campus itself, beginning with the completion of José Clemente Orozco's mural cycle The Epic of American Civilization in the lower-level reserve reading room of Baker Library in 1934. Other works by former artists-in-residence that grace the campus grounds include Charles O. Perry's bronze sculpture D2D of 1973–75, which stands in front of the Sherman Fairchild Physical Sciences Center and whose title was given by a group of Dartmouth chemistry students who had been asked to describe the sculpture's physical symmetry and topography; George Warren Rickey's kinetic stainless-steel sculpture Two Lines Oblique Down, Variation VI of 1976, whose gently lifting and falling metal blades delight visitors as they walk past the Darling Courtyard in the Hopkins Center; and Luise Kaish's polished aluminum work titled Sphere of 1976, a dynamic, rotating sculpture that, as of autumn 2013, hangs in the atrium of the Collis Center for Student Involvement.

The two works of public art by the South African–born sculptor Thomas Bayliss Huxley-Jones reflect his popularity at Dartmouth during the 1960s, when he was artist-in-residence in the fall of 1963 and the spring of 1968. During his 1963 residency, Huxley-Jones was commissioned by the Class of 1943 to create a memorial to twenty-three of their classmates who gave their lives during World War II. The artist responded with Fountain Figure, a graceful bronze sculpture of a standing female figure clad in a diaphanous toga-like garment that was placed in a fountain in the Zahm Courtyard near the entrance to the Hopkins Center's Hinman Post office (now adjacent to the newly renovated Hanover Inn). An image of quiet contemplation, reflection, and meditation, the tall figure bends at both the waist and the knees to assume a vaguely S-shaped stance as she lifts her head and eyes to the sky. In 1968 Huxley-Jones created a memorable bronze portrait bust of Warner Bentley, the director of the Dartmouth Players from 1928 to 1960 and the director of the Hopkins Center from 1960 to 1969, which remains one of the best-known and most-beloved works of public art on campus, due to the fact that all students rub Bentley's nose for good luck as they pass through the Hop. Although the glistening nose is tarnished beyond repair, the Portrait of Warner Bentley has become an icon of the performing arts at Dartmouth. These and many other works of public art by former artists-in-residence enrich the environment in which we live, work, or study, and play a vital role in exposing Dartmouth students, faculty, and the wider community to a diverse range of public art.

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Written January 01, 2014 by Kristin Swan