University Museums

Title: Hy-Brids
Name: Sculptures
Date: 1991
Medium: Terra-cotta
Dimensions: Other (Center Plaque): 52 x 112 in., 3 cm (132.1 x 284.5 cm, 1 3/16 in.) Other (Side Plaques (4)): 40 x 40 in., 3 cm (101.6 x 101.6 cm, 1 3/16 in.)
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: An Iowa Art in State Buildings Project for the Molecular Biology Building. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Molecular Biology, North entrance/exterior wall
Object Number: U91.72abcd
More Information
The G-Nome Project fully integrates art and architecture into the Molecular Biology Building. Since the artist, Andrew Leicester, was selected at the start of the project, he was able to work with the architectural firm Hansen Lind Meyer, Inc. to incorporate the art into the building's design. As a result, Iowa State University has gained a striking example of the successful merging of art and architecture, as well as a building rich in meaning and function.

When Leicester was commissioned by Iowa State to create this public art, he began to research the kinds of activities that would take place there. He found information at conferences, by attending lectures, by reading books, and through conversation with scientists and students. He kept a sketchbook of ideas and drawings on the subject. It became clear to him that the most debated area of current investigation in the field of molecular biology was transgenetic animal research with both the academic community and the public expressing their opinions. Philosophers, sociologists, animal scientists, and economists were among the many who were discussing the potential legal and economic implications of genetic research.

Hybrids, featuring fictional monsters some feared would be the result of molecular biology research. Surrounding these cross-bred figures are tiles containing the letters A,G,C, and T. These represent the four basic building blocks of DNA. The relief centered over the entrance contains three images. The central one is the mythological sphinx. On either side of the sphinx is a box and a horn. These represent the two possible outcomes of molecular research: an open Pandora's box of evil or a cornucopia of good.