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Keeping Watch Over Central Campus

Posted on April 28, 2020 at 12:15 PM by Sydney Marshall

Campus may be quiet today, but flowers are beginning to bloom in the Anderson Sculpture Garden as Gwynn Murrill’s majestic Bighorn looks out over central campus. 

Gwynn Murrill’s artistic training may have began in painting, but unlike many sculptors, when creating her sculptures she doesn’t begin with a 2D sketch. “Why bother making something three dimensional two dimensional and vice versa.” 

Carving allows Murrill to enter into a meditative flow as she’s working. She begins by carving from foam or creating small maquettes or models of her sculptures, then moves onto grinding into blocks of stone, wood, or creating forms to be cast in bronze. “When I’m grinding a wood sculpture and all I have to do is make that form it’s so meditative.” Murrill creates her own mixtures of patinas, allowing her to “paint” the resulting final color onto the bronze sculpture. Typically applied onto the heated bronze surface with a squirt bottle, this custom mixture creates a unique coloration for each of Murrill’s sculptures that is difficult to recreate.

Murrill is best known for her sculptures of animals, which are reduced to the simplest form of the animal’s shape and expression of movement. You can see more examples of Murrill’s animals with her cat and dog sculptures outside the Hixon-Lied Small Animal Hospital. Click here to view the new Art on Campus Digital Map.

Click here for an interview with Gwynn Merrill about her artistic process.

Bighorn, 2008-2011, Gwynn Murrill (American, b. 1942). Bronze, Edition: 2/6. Located in the Anderson Sculpture Garden. Gift of the Artist. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.

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