University Museums

Title: The Fifth Muse
Name: Installation
Date: 2016
Medium: Stainless steel and mixed media: Aluminum, glass, stainless steel, acrylic, ABS Plastic, steel, and other materials.
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Commissioned by the University Museums and the College of Engineering. An Iowa Art in State Buildings Project for the College of Engineering, Marston Hall. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Marston Hall, entry
Object Number: U2016.506
More Information
Using Iowa State’s Engineering labs, facilities and people for fabrication, this artwork was made to express the diversity and range of study and activities at the College of Engineering. Referring to the four Marston Muses on the outside of this building, this artwork looks at the present and into the future of Engineering as well as the past, and expresses for the current time what the original muses expressed about engineering for its time. Though processes and stories are told by the objects and how they are hung, viewers are also encouraged to develop their own stories and connections between objects.

This artwork was produced in many of the laboratories and manufacturing facilities located at Iowa State University with input by students, staff and faculty, and by students, staff, faculty of University of Northern Iowa’s Public Art Incubator.

Artists Statement
At the main building for the College of Engineering, hanging objects evoke the intricacies, complexities and diversity of engineering disciplines at the College. Referring to the traditional sculptures of four muses, on the exterior of the historic building, this artwork looks to the present and future. An important aspect of the artwork was to fabricate or acquire most of the objects in Iowa and especially through the various manufacturing and technical labs at the University and the College of Engineering, making an installation that is mostly made in Iowa and partially made by engineers at the labs within the College of Engineering. This artwork is anchored by the basic wheel, an early engineering invention, and the turbine, a more recent invention connected by an infinity symbol as its main structure from which over 100 objects hang. Each object tells a story, yet relationships between the various objects also tell other open-ended narratives that become personal as well as universal. The Marston Water Tower hangs rather like a plumb bob, its legs swirling into the hanging objects as if it were becoming a cyclone, further adding to the story.