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Committee strives to beautify campus through sculptures

Nov. 5, 1997

By Mo Sadjadpour

Reporter for The Baylor Lariat

In an effort to bring the university a sense of life, Baylor is making a concerted effort to bring more sculptures to campus.

'The art on campus is important because it enhances ones experience at Baylor,' said Michael Johnson, assistant professor in art. 'It helps students appreciate sculpture and exposes them to art that they would normally not see.'

Baylor currently has a few sculptures on campus. Many of the sculptures are granite or bronze pieces of famous men and women that have been a part of the rich history of Baylor.

One of the sculptures reflects the very essence of Baylor's foundations. The work, titled 'Kneeling Christ' by Charles Umlauf is located in the courtyard behind Bennett Auditorium. This work is not only captivating because of its gripping gesture, but because the artists son is now the artist-in-residence at Baylor. Karl Umlauf speaks of his father's work and describes it as having a 'spiritual essence of peace' as Christ is speaking to God. Umlauf also said the theme of religion and its movement through mankind was an inspiration in his father's art. 'Kneeling Christ' was bought and dedicated to Baylor by John Koonce in 1979.

Monuments of famous men and women are not the only things that Baylor is adding to its history-rich campus. Abstract art has also found its way to Baylor University. In the past few years Baylor has brought three new sculptures to campus. These efforts have been headed up by a sculpture committee that seeks and judges works of art worthy to be placed on campus. The committee is made up of faculty members from various disciplines who judge the sculptures on technical standards of longevity, structural security and aesthetic quality, that all great sculptures should maintain, according to Karl Umlauf, a former committee member.

The three new pieces are all distinctly different, but all have a single artist in common. David Deming is the artist behind the work. He is currently the dean of fine arts at the University of Texas and is a working artist in Austin. His works are not only displayed in Austin, but he has also recently leased a sculpture to the University of Utah.

The first sculpture is named 'Flora Bella,' which means 'beautiful flower' in Italian. It is located in the courtyard next to Carroll Science Hall. The sculpture is formed from a teal metallic bronze and has the look of a human gesture.

'The point of most of my work has a figurative content,' Deming said. 'It's about growth and blooming and a flower displays this gesture nicely.'

The work was purchased by Baylor in honor of Dr. Cornelia Smith.

The second piece is located in front of the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center. It is named 'July Tripod' and is painted a rusty orange. Deming said this work is insect-like with its three legs and looks like armor for an alien-like creature. 'July Tripod' came out of a series of works by the artist where the art was supported by only three main legs and coincidentally, this piece was built in July.

The third and newest piece to be acquired is named 'Night Hawk.' 'Night Hawk' is a black steel piece located beside the Glennis McCrary Music Building. According to Deming, this piece has a bird-like quality with two wings that juxtapose on either side of the piece.

Deming's works are on lease by Baylor and will remain on campus for three years.

'A college campus is a place to be exposed to things known and unknown,' Deming said. 'Contemporary art challenges people to think and see things in new ways, what better place than a university setting where one can be exposed to art on a grand scale.'

Students agree with Deming. Rayne Sieling, a Lake Jackson sophomore, walks by Deming's sculpture in front of the art building every day.

'The art on our campus makes Baylor more attractive,' Sieling said. 'It gives the students something to interact with besides where they go to class everyday.'

Some students would like to see even more art on campus and think these forms of expression can add to our rich history.

'Compared to other schools, I think the art on our campus is lacking. I would like to see Baylor build the Immortal Ten statue, adding aesthetics and history to our university,' Jeff Phillips, a Pensacola, Fla., senior said.

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