Dimensions: Each: 51 x 42 x 15 in. (129.5 x 106.7 x 38.1 cm)
Credit Line: Commissioned by University Museums. An Iowa Art in State Buildings Project for Reiman Gardens. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Iowa State University, Reiman Gardens
Object Number: U2005.6abc
Usually, rabbits are limited to a diet of low lying vegetation and greenery. Not here – these rabbits could eat you. The massive size of the three permanent residents of Reiman Gardens is their “genius,” said Lynette Pohlman, director and chief curator of University Museums. Each sculpture weighs 150 pounds and is several feet tall – and that’s just the head poking up out of the ground. The typical prey becomes the predator.
Each head is two faced, with one menacing eye regarding its visitors and painted earth tones that are just a bit too bright. This explores the contrast between how we typically see rabbits (as soft, vulnerable creatures) and as they really can be (ravenous garden predators, capable of causing a garden‘s destruction). This is not unlike the dual nature of Reiman Gardens, which celebrate both the natural Iowa landscape and the hybrids so commonly created in the research laboratories of Iowa State.
The rabbits stand solitary and quiet in the far reaches of Reiman Gardens, both attracting people in to the prairie that was once less traveled, and repelling them away. The initial reaction to the menacing creatures was not overwhelmingly positive, but visitors have since grown to appreciate the predatory guardians.
“Once explored, the sculptures embrace deeper issues such as vulnerability, security, intimidation, and protection,” Deborah Masuoka wrote in her artist statement. By limiting the amount of visual information presented in the simplified heads, Masouka frees the viewer to make their own interpretation of the sculptures.