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Ghost Trees

In the Anderson Sculpture Garden

August 2023 to June 2025



Stancliffe’s sculptures in the Anderson Sculpture Garden invite visitors to interact and walk within the two towering trees, while bringing about the emotive qualities of an experience from his own life, while leaving the form open to interpretation and contemplation by the visitor.

The imagery of these sculptures is comprised of a layering of memory, visual metaphor, and the final form of a pair of trees. The inspiration for these sculptures originated during a moonlit walk in Ledges park, where the moon shining through the trees created silhouettes along the trail.

With the changing landscape of many forests resulting from disease and pests such as the emerald ash borer, the tree forms created from papery leaves adds another layer of interpretation. What if the tree was molting as an insect does, leaving behind a papery shell? The metamorphosis of the forests and the trees we experience there is captured within these sculptures and their shifting shadows.


Lights shine through the form overnight, slowly fading as the energy from solar panels wears away, ready to recharge the next day. Walk through the sculptures and notice the shadows cast along the central green. How do they change throughout the day, and across seasons?


Ghost Trees, 2023
Tom Stancliffe
Welded aluminum, solar powered LED light
On loan from the artist

Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged but not required. Click the event title for more information and/or to register. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Curator's Tour of Art of Fabrication
with Sydney Marshall

Tuesday, August 22, 4:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Reiman Gallery, Morrill Hall lower level

Curator Sydney Marshall will lead a tour of the new installation Ghost Trees in the Anderson Sculpture Garden by artist Tom Stancliffe, as well as explore the artist’s connections to the larger Art on Campus Collection with a look at the exhibition Art of Fabrication.


A Bug's Eye View of Tom Stancliffe's Ghost Trees
with Dr. Laura Iles

Tuesday, October 3, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM 
Anderson Sculpture Garden

View the new installation in the Anderson Sculpture Garden with a different perspective on this tour with Dr. Laura Iles, director of the North Central Integrated Pest Management Center. Explore the intricate relationships between insects and forests, as well as how human influence on the environment affects this relationship.

Visit the Anderson Sculpture Garden

Open all hours, every day

Address: 601 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free; donations appreciated


This exhibition is curated by University Museums with support from Rachel Flint and University Museums membership.


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