Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU College of Education sculpture dedication scheduled for Sept. 2

August 26, 2009

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Indiana State University will dedicate a new sculpture by Illinois artist Michael Dunbar during a brief ceremony at 1 p.m. Sept. 2 near University Hall, formerly known as the Laboratory School.

The sculpture can be found at the northeast corner the building, the new home of the College of Education. Designed specifically for this site, the sculpture will become part of Indiana State's Permanent Art Collection.

His sculpture, titled "Arthur's Odyssey," reflects the ongoing odyssey of scientific exploration and makes reference to the journey every student embarks on as they study and plan for the future.

"Each student embarks on an odyssey to define their life and make a mark on civilization," Dunbar said.

The 14-foot tall work was influenced by two people with the first name of Arthur.

"One influence represents the past and the other reflects the future," he said.

When the design for the piece was finished it reminded Dunbar of something out of the movie "2001" A Space Odyssey," a movie based on a screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke.

"He was a brilliant mathematician and thinker," Dunbar said.

The day the design work was finished also coincided with the birthday of his first grandchild, Arthur Michael Davison, who goes by the nickname "Buzz."

The white, nine-ton sculpture, constructed of six-inch solid stainless steel, was crafted by Indiana State alumna, Thelda Livingston Mathews of K&M Sculpture Fabricating Division of Cassopolis, Mich.

"Arthur's Odyssey" is consistent with Dunbar's body of other works, which reflect the concepts of time, distance and space.

"They all came together in this piece," he said. "The bolts and connections can be considered visual punctuation."

Dunbar lives and works in Springfield, Ill. With more than 35 years of experience as a professional sculptor, he has had hands-on-experience with all aspects of the design, funding, fabrication, transportation and installation of large scale public sculpture.

After earning his BA from Illinois State University in 1973, Dunbar returned to graduate school and obtained a master's degree in Community Arts Management from Sangamon State University, now the University of Illinois at Springfield in 1976. He also earned a master's degree in visual arts in 1980 from Illinois State. His works are installed at universities, corporate headquarters, and sculpture parks throughout the country. He exhibited in Terre Haute at the 1999 Swope Art Museum's Annual Wabash Valley Juried Exhibition.

He has been involved in a number of public arenas that have given him a unique perspective for an artist. The longest and on-going, is his tenure as the coordinator of the Art in Architecture Program for the State of Illinois since the program's inception in 1977. In that position he has been responsible for the creation, as well as the ongoing operation, of this multimillion dollar public art program. Under his guidance, the program has commissioned for the State of Illinois more than 1200 major works of public art at a cost of more than $23 million.

In 1995 he created and co-produced with Terry Karpowicz Pier Walk, the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition at Chicago's Navy Pier. Through his vision and direction, Pier Walk evolved over a period of six years, into the world's largest outdoor sculpture exhibition.

In 2006 he was the subject of the book "Michael Dunbar Sculptor," by Suzanne Deats, published by Fresco Fine Arts publishing in Albuquerque, N.M., and the subject of a feature length documentary film, "Casting Shadows," by Ben Karson, Santa Monica, Calif. in 2009.

Photo caption: Michael Dunbar (right) and grandson "Buzz" Davison, who inspired the design of the sculpture, celebrate after its installation on the Indiana State campus. (Photo by Gurinder Singh/ISU)


Contact: John Lustig, ISU Permanent Art Collection, (812) 237-4334

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or