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G-Nomes Back on Top

Posted on July 30, 2017 at 12:00 AM by Jami Milne

Image courtesy of Charlie Coffey


G-Nomes, originally made of terra cotta standing 12’ tall and weighing in at roughly 2,200 pounds apiece, were placed at each of the four corners of the Molecular Biology building nearly 27 years ago in August of 1990. Due to deterioration of the terra cotta body, new sculptures have been fabricated using aluminum and painted to match the original maidens.


The G-Nomes hold X and Y chromosome rods in each of their hands. The stylized black and white coats worn by the figures are symbolic references to the black suits worn by business people and the white lab coats worn by scientists — a nod to the collaboration between these two professions that the artist believed would lead the molecular biology program at Iowa State University.


Andrew Leicester, the G-Nomes artist, was selected from hundreds of entrants across the U.S. by an Art in State Buildings selection committee made up of faculty, staff, and one student in the late 80s. They chose Leicester as the artist who could most effectively interpret the various aspects of the discipline of molecular biology, consider the Iowa State campus with respect and design site-specific art and simultaneously deal fairly with all of these important facets of the project. According to a committee document, "Andrew Leicester was our easy and unanimous choice. He is an independent artist whose education and experience have prepared him to deal effectively with the project.”


Most recently in 2016, Leicester worked with fabricating artist Tom Stancliffe, a sculptor and professor at the University of Northern Iowa, to create an updated material to withstand the building requirements resulting in the four painted aluminum sculptures.


To see photos of the installation, and a few from the removal, visit here


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