Art Around Us

It’s easy to take art for granted; we can walk by or see artwork everyday without thinking twice about how it got there or appreciate the process that created it. Or maybe that’s what makes successful art – it blends in so naturally we admire it but don’t try to investigate its origins.

Either way, I’ve been at Purdue for four years and have only just started looking into the stories behind some of the art pieces I see nearly everyday.

This week I’ve been posting on  Instagram  regularly and my subjects as of recent have been two of the sculptures outside of Pao Hall: Silver Bow and Brickhead Conversations. This has been a great excuse for me to take a deeper look into the creative process and background of these two iconic works.


Silver Bow was crafted by Deborah Butterfield and the process by which she made this and other statues is intriguing to say the least.

She begins by collecting various materials, such as driftwood and spare pieces of metal to fasten together into a (usually horse) form. Butterfield then photographs this piece from as many different angles as necessary to later reassemble it. She uses the driftwood pieces to create castes that are then used to form realistic pieces of bronze wood. Her creation is put back together using these bronze branches and the result is a durable piece of art that, as I said in my Instagram post above, can trick the eye into thinking it’s actually made of wood.

The other artwork I researched outside of Pao is the Brickhead Conversations. James Tyler built these two massive heads for Purdue, but it’s not just the size that make them stand out from other statues.

The reason they’re called the Brickhead Conversations is because as people walk by the statues, a motion detector sets off a recording of nature sounds that emit from the heads. The symphony of insect noises and bird calls were originally recorded in 2008 and a recording of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker has been added to the soundtrack.

I hope this inspires you to learn more about the beauty around you and appreciate different creative processes.



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