Sept. 9, 2010


Christian Petersen's The Country Doctor and Auguste Rodin's Saint John the Baptist Preaching will travel the campus in tandem as part of a program that integrates the art on campus collection into curricula. Photo by Leah Hansen.

Traveling sculptures to integrate campus art into classroom

by Diana Pounds

Two well-known sculptures may be making a stop in a building near you in the coming months as part of a new project that will integrate ISU's art on campus collection into class work.

The project, titled "Where's Rodin?," involves taking Auguste Rodin's Saint John the Baptist Preaching and Christian Petersen's The Country Doctor on a tour of various campus sites, departments and colleges. Those with a plan for integrating the sculptures into their curricula can apply to host the exhibit in their facilities for one or more months.

The sculptures will be used as educational assets to a variety of ISU classes, says Nancy Girard, visual literacy and learning educator with University Museums. Faculty and staff from each exhibiting unit will receive an introduction by museums' staff to the artists and the sculptures.

Headed to Hach

The sculptures, which have been on display in the reception area of the executive vice president and provost office in Beardshear Hall this summer, head to the new Hach Hall chemistry building later this week.

"Chemistry and art have a strong relationship that has evolved since the earliest artistic expressions," said chemistry professor Keith Woo. "Clearly, chemistry has provided important creative tools such as the pigments in a painter's palette and innovative materials for new art genres. What may be less evident is the extent of art in chemistry. The aesthetics of our discipline may be found in the beauty of the structures of molecules, in the assembly of atoms in materials, in the amazing images produced by scientific instrumentation, by the elegance of a synthetic strategy, and in the intellectual pursuit of knowledge."

He said the "Where's Rodin?" project will showcase the public art in Hach and highlight universal connections between art and chemistry.

About the sculptors

Girard said there's good reason for pairing Rodin, the French sculptor of The Thinker fame, with Petersen, who came to the Iowa State campus as an artist-in-residence in 1935 and stayed for two decades, teaching and sculpting some of the best Regionalist art of the period.

"Petersen credited Rodin as his major artistic inspiration and specifically cited St. John the Baptist Preaching in a 1936 class lecture, as an inspirational sculpture to him," she said. "Hallmarks of Rodin's sculptures -- movement, realism and expression -- can also be seen in Petersen's art."

How to request this exhibit

ISU units interested in temporarily hosting the sculptures must submit their requests to Girard ( by Sept. 30. Each request must include the following:

  • The proposed location for the sculptures. The site must have public access, yet be secure. Each sculpture will be on a pedestal with secured covering.
  • The requested length of the exhibit. Each site must exhibit the sculptures for at least one month and can request up to three months.
  • The primary contact person for the site.
  • The plan for integrating the sculptures into the curriculum. How will your students, faculty and staff benefit from having access to the sculptures?