University Museums

Title: Aequanimitas
Name: Archway, Envrionmental Installation
Date: 1992
Medium: a: Bronze b: Bronze and concrete c: Aluminum and stainless steel d: Stainless steel e: Stainless steel f: Wood and brick
Dimensions: 135 1/2 x 1350 x 720 in. (344.2 x 3429 x 1828.8 cm)
Marks: plaque on site
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Commissioned by the Iowa Art in State Buildings Program for the Center for Designing Foods to Improve Human Nutrition. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Human Nutritional Science, Courtyard
Object Number: U92.616a
More Information
This courtyard is a time line of the food chain and the steps or choices that a person makes regarding food each day. As you walk into the courtyard, you become aware of the food around you and your own personal decisions about the food which you eat. The foods we choose, healthy fruits and meats, or greasy cholesterol- filled junk food, determine the amount of risk we take concerning our health. As we travel down the path, a succession of steps takes place. We start with our decisions about what we eat then move on to food preparation and food consumption, as represented by the red structure where people may sit and enjoy food. Finally, our path ends on a bench under a large tree where we can relax as we process our meal. The overall theme for the courtyard is that "the consumer is the heart of nutrition." When you sit down to share food, you are not only nurturing the human body but also the human spirit.

“In researching for the project, it was interesting for me to find out that the company who
makes SPAM turns out over 90 million cans a year and yet very few people seem to be willing to admit they eat it. I do,” said Tom Askman. Aequanimitas is a site-specific installation located in the courtyard of the Human Nutritional Science Building, which is also the location of the Center for Designing Human Nutrition. The word Aequanimitas is Latin for balance, a central theme of the installation. At the entrance to the courtyard, an arch made up of four bronze tubular rods with various foods suspended represent the full spectrum of the food we eat, and the knowledge that some are healthy and some are not. The foods within the arch are examples of the food pyramid with wheat, nuts and pasta as the base. Moving up over the arch, many other examples of food, including SPAM are represented. Balanced on top of the arch is a man sitting on a chair, representing the precariousness and dangers of food consumption.

Past the arch there is a walkway that leads the viewer to a stainless steel and aluminum house structure, with the material representing the high test stainless kitchens and metal kitchens of both the home and the restaurant. The steps leading up to the house are awkward and angled, which is intended to give the viewer a feeling of risk in what you consume. There is an element of balance on the stairs that relates back to the title Aequanimitas as well as the man balancing on the arch. The table sitting in the center of the house represents the intimacy of sharing meals with friends and family, and it was designed to require an effort to use emphasizing the effort it takes to consume healthy and nutritious meals. The house is located in the center of the courtyard to represent the importance of the home as a center for obtaining good nutrition. The overall theme for the courtyard is that the consumer is the heart of nutrition. When you sit down to share food, you are not only nurturing the human body but also the human spirit.