Arts & Humanities

Campus Art Shares Stories

By Whitney Hales from the Hard News Café

October 24, 2006 | Dedicated professors, demanding education, and a beautiful atmosphere each contribute to the overall positive attitude at Utah State University. Specifically adding to the surroundings, are the beautiful and unique sculptures placed all around campus, which each have their own unique story to tell.
One of the most famous, and a definite favorite for many students, is a piece titled, "Synergy," by artist Gary Price. Often known as, "the hand statue," this sculpture stands for much more than most people think of at first glance. Based off of principles including teamwork, unity, and friendship, this striking sculpture embodies the idea of many people, working together to support one another hand in hand.
Parallel to values which USU stands for as well, Price designed, "Synergy," to promote unity and the importance of the individual in a group situation. In Price's words, "Synergy" represents not just one person helping another, but rather, the entire human family integrated, unified, and working together in a way that we are all empowered."
Another famous sculpture on campus can be found on the east side of the Animal Science building titled, "Phra Apaimanee," which is the representation of an ancient myth from Thailand. The story goes that an ancient king encouraged his two sons to venture out and gain experience to help prepare them for the responsibility of the throne. Upon returning, the King banishes one of his sons, Phra Apaimanee, when he sees that during his time away he learned to play the flute.
Wandering through the forest Apaimanee attracts the attention of a female sea giant while playing one of his melodies. The sea giant disguises herself as a beautiful young woman and lures Apaimanee into her cave to play the music for her there. They end up falling in love, under false pretenses of course, living together there in the cave, and bearing a child. After living together for a long period of time, Apaimanee learns of the true identity of his wife. Ashamed, frustrated, and embarrassed, he escapes from the cave with his child and ends up being helped in his escape by a group of mermaids.
What may seem like a rather silly story, is in all actuality the origin of this figure on campus which is passed by so often.
Emma Eccles Jones has made quite a contribution to USU, and is honored in the famous statue outside of the education building built in her name. "Educator, Teacher, Friend," is what is printed on the plaque adorning this piece created by artist Kraig Varner in 2004.
Placed next to this sculpture is a commemorative inscription, which gives passers-by the opportunity to learn more about the women in the scene - but very few take the chance to stop and read. The plate tells of an example of Jones' teaching which made her methods so memorable and well-respected. The plaque tells of the great story-telling which Jones would do for her students. The story of, "The Gunny Wolf," is said on the plate to be one of her favorites to tell, and one of the students favorite to listen. A description of Jones is given for readers, as well as, "The Gunny Wolf," story.
On the USU campus the term, "french fries," is typically not describing a side dish available in the food court. The student body recognizes the name as the well-known statue located between the Biology and Natural Resources and Agricultural Science buildings.
Sculptor Joseph Kinnebrew is the man behind the fabricated metal structure, and is very well known for his work with that particular medium. The piece is officially titled, "Snafu," and students should do their best to pay the artist his respect and call it by its proper and intended name. Kinnebrew described the effort and respect artists receive by saying, "Weeks, sometimes months of effort happen without others understanding a work in its entirety."
Many more sculptures can be seen all over the Utah State University campus, and it can be promised that each contains a story just as unique and significant as these. Creativity, individuality, and beauty are embodied in these magnificent works of art, and each student owes it to themselves to take the time to enjoy them.

Sculpture can be found across the Utah State University campus. "Synergy" is located near the Taggart Student Center. (all photos from the Hard News Café.)

Phra Apaimanee

The sculpture "Phra Apaimanee," located east of the Animal Science building, represents an ancient myth.

Educator, Teacher, Friend sculpture

"Educator, Teacher, Friend" honors Emma Eccles Jones in a sculpture placed near the Edith Bowen Laboratory School.

"Snafu" has a fast-food inspired nickname on the USU campus. The sculpture is located near the Biology-Natural Resources building.


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