At GW, you don’t have to look up to do a little bird-watching.
One bird looks as students pass through University Yard, and another perches outside the West End residence hall. But even though they don’t move, many students may not have noticed these winged sculptures. And if you have seen the avian artworks, chances are you’ve wondered why they landed at GW.
“Students may notice them or they may not notice them, but they kind of make you wonder,” said Lenore D. Miller, director of University Art Galleries. Miller is involved in the acquisition and placement of art on campus.
Massachusetts-based sculptor Ben Cabot made the three roughly life-sized granite bird sculptures, which perch on posts that are about 5 feet tall. The University acquired the first of these sculptures, “Hawk on Granite Post,” in 2001 and placed it in the southeast corner of University Yard. The other two sculptures, placed in front of the West End and on the Mount Vernon Campus, came to GW in 2003.
GW is home to about 20 outdoor sculptures, including the birds. Other sculptures on campus include six George Washington figures and academic symbols. Another popular sculpture is the hippo, GW’s unofficial mascot, placed outside Lisner Auditorium.
“Every time you add a sculpture, it has some relevance to teachings or academic departments or GW’s namesake,” Miller said.
But, admittedly, the bird statues don’t exactly fit into any of those categories, Miller said.
“They’re thought-provoking. Let’s just leave it at that,” she said.
While the GW connection and relevance of the statues might be up for debate, the sculpture in front of the West End bears more significance than meets the eye. On the granite post, there is an engraved “91101” and a circular symbol – a tribute to Sept. 11.
Miller did not know the exact cost of the bird statues, but said “the value of a sculpture is very high.”
“I think you can’t do anything for much less than $10,000,” she said.
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