University Museums

Media File
Title: Library Boy and Girl: Models
Name: Model
Date: 1944
Medium: Painted plaster
Dimensions: 24 x 12 x 12 in. (61 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm)
Classification: Art on Campus Preparatory Studies and Maquettes
Credit Line: Gift of Wayne Moore and Family. In the Christian Petersen Art Collection, Art on Campus Preparatory Studies and Maquette Collection, Christian Petersen Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Object Number: UM2007.18ab
More Information
Petersen's Library Boy and Girl show that he could apply the same inclusive approach to sculpture for an interior as for the out of doors. The two students sit modestly on either side of the entrance to a stairway, so that viewers must pass between them whether going into or out of the room. Although at first they seem unassuming and absorbed in their reading, with a little scrutiny, it soon becomes clear that they are actually absorbed in something else -- each other. Although their book are open on their laps and their heads are down, they are also angled slightly so that we sense their sharp awareness of one another. The sweetness and the tempered longing of the couple may have seemed especially point in 1944, when so many were seperated from loved ones and the simple pleasure of a college romance seemed very remote in the midst of war.
The two sculptures are placed in a room that also contains Grant Wood's Breaking the Prairie, an image that symbolizes the beginning of Midwestern culture, a culture embodied by land grant college such as Iowa State. passing up the stairway between the boy and girl, the viewer encounters Wood's murals celebrating the education provided to both men and women at Iowa State. the two sculptures, then, have the effect of humanizing the grant historical and educational schemes that surrond them.