New ‘Xs and Os’ sculpture connects contemporary and traditional aesthetics of campus

An abstract sculpture by contemporary artist Rob Lorenson has been installed on Earlham College’s campus with support from alumni and their spouses.

“Xs and Os” was installed in the plaza between the College’s Center for Science and Technology and Tyler Hall on Monday, April 18. Lorenson is a faculty member at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. His large-scale metal works explore the relationships of space.

Earlham trustee Ian Henry ’01 and his wife, Kirstin Eismin-Henry, discovered the sculpture in Cincinnati, Ohio, and were the lead donors for the project. Additional generosity comes from three other trustees and their spouses: Shorty ’61 and Georges ’63 Birenbaum, Bob ’65 Graham and Jane Henney, and Sharon and Ray ’84 Ontko.

“The sculpture is an abstract piece, but ‘Xs and Os’ is a recognizable symbol for hugs and kisses, or more generally the notion of love,” Ian Henry said. “I can’t think of a greater ideal for Earlham. We hope it becomes a place where the Earlham community comes together, stops and takes a picture and shares a hug with one another.”

“Art offers something different for everyone, just like Earlham embraces all of its community members for their uniqueness,” Kirstin Eismin-Henry added.

Earlham art curator Christian Adams and the College’s Office of Facilities collaborated to determine a location for the sculpture. The location was chosen for its visibility and proximity to The Heart, and the way it unites the contemporary and traditional aesthetic elements of campus.

Earlham senior Thea Clarkberg was among the first to pose with “Xs and Os” on campus.

“A campus that celebrates public art is a campus where creativity can be found around every corner — and this is an important and welcome first step toward that vision,” says Earlham President Anne Houtman. “Public art has the potential to inspire our students to expand their own vision of what is real, what is true, what is beautiful and— most important—what is possible. Rob’s striking sculpture will invite interpretation and discussion, and I am incredibly grateful to Ian and Kirstin for discovering this work and leading the fundraising effort to bring this important work to campus. I’m also thankful for Ian’s fellow alumni-trustees and their spouses, whose generosity underscores Earlham’s longstanding commitment to the arts and their role in a vibrant campus.”

Lorenson has been making abstract outdoor and indoor sculptures for 30 years. “Working with metal has been for me an odyssey in expression of form, space and place making,” he said. “Fine metal craft excites me in any form but is elevated within the medium of sculpture.”

The following is an excerpt from his artist statement:

“The circle is emblematic of the most powerful shape in nature, the circle. The sun, the moon, the center of a flower or the Iris in our own eyes are circular and call attention to themselves.  It is a logical shape to use in sculpture for that reason. However, I alter the circle to create the split and the shift in space. That is principally emblematic of the cycles that we live in.”

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We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.