Monday, March 15, 2010

"Son of Man Be Free" Detail Shots

"Son of Man Be Free" at 11:00

Marxhausen would have passed by this sculpture every day on the way to work. Since every student of Concordia is familiar with this prominent sculpture, it's easy to make jokes about it.

The 'Son of Man Be Free' sculpture has been adorned with many costumes over the years, most of which were easily removed. However, a few students had to pay to have the sculpture restored a few years ago when their coating of clay and leaves damaged the finish. (From an article in The Sower,

I've also observed a "For Sale" sign placed in front of it, fake police tape surrounding it, a Jack o' Lantern placed on it's head around Haloween, and a snow ball placed in it's hand after the first snow of the year. It is colloquially known as the "Naked Man Statue."

As a freshman, I wrote a haiku about the sculpture for a writing class. Haikus have three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven, the third with five again:

All ridicule it.

But was not Christ stripped naked?

For us ridiculed?

My idea was that it's very fitting that the sculpture is constantly ridiculed since it depicts Christ, who was ridiculed on our account.

I'll bet this statue appealed to Marxhausen because light can dramatically change it. Here is something he said about the statue outside of New Cassel Retirement Center in Omaha, NE:

This statue is not the same all the time. Here this hand is light and this hand is dark, and it changes. Sometimes both hands are dark, sometimes both hands are light…It changes. It doesn’t always look the same.

This observation can easily be applied to the "Son of Man be Free." All of these are photos taken around 11:00 a.m. In future, you can compare these to other sets of photographs taken at different times of day to see the dramatic effect of sun light for yourself.

- Duncan

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Theory on the Open Book

Shot at 12:10

Why would Marxhausen want his Open Book sculpture tucked away behind Link library? Contrast this with the Son of Man be Free: that sculpture resides in the heart of the campus, with no trees obstructing student's view of it, and no buildings close enough to cast their shadow on it. Most students will pass by it on their way to different classes throughout the day, which means almost every student not only sees it daily, but can appreciate how it changes as the day goes by and the sun travels further west. This is probably why students poke fun at the Son of Man be Free so often: it's something most Concordia students are very familiar with.

Conversely, during the school day, a student would have to go out of his way to see the Open Book. From morning til noon, the sun is blocked by the building, so the afternoon is the only time you can appreciate strong sunlight's effect on it.

However, when Marxhausen discussed his sculpture in an interview, he explained that its placement was deliberate:

I decided to design something which was away from the wall so that it uses the space out here a little bit more rather than glue it up against a wall; then having it three dimensional like this so that the sun can play on its surfaces.

Based on this information, I've theorized that Marxhausen was not only well aware that his sculpture would be in shadow for part of the day, he wanted that variety between strong, dramatic light, and subtler light.

In A Time to See Marxy talked about some bottles that by a window in his house:

I've taken about twenty slides of these bottles sitting in the window and no two slides are alike. They're different because the light changes and the atmosphere changes and the sun changes. And sometimes they look very dramatic and sometimes they look very I get up in the morning and come to this little space I can see things differently as it's reflected in the obejcts.

Marxhausen aprreciated these bottles because of the variety. Similarly, the Open Book is sometimes dramatic and sometimes less dramatic because of the sun's lighting. As I've written in the past, Marxhausen loved the changes he saw in nature and he taught his students that seeing beauty is a deliberate, agressive action.

Since students have to go out of their way to appreciate the Open Book, seeing it at a moment when the sunlight is dramatic is all the more special. I'm positive that Marxhausen planned it that way.

One can't passively enjoy the Open Book; one has to actively make time to come appreciate it in its best light.

- Duncan