Woods Quad showcases sculptors' finest pieces

Woods Quad showcases sculptors' finest pieces
The statues on Woods Quad are a fixture on campus, even though no one is quite sure why they are there. /CW | Pete Pajor

The Woods Quad, also called the “Arts Quad,” is located near the Crimson Promenade and features many contemporary art statues of all shapes and sizes. There are six notable pieces around Woods Quad, with each significant histories and many others scattered around campus.


Standing outside the front of Manly Hall is “Phoenix,” a piece that is constructed out of different vehicular components and shards of welded metal.

Andrew L. Arvanetes is the sculptor of this unique piece.

“As in the Phoenix legend, my work often deals with the passage of time, life, death and existence after death. For this reason, I chose to design this piece to visually suggest the creature from this mythological tale,” Arvanetes said about his sculpture in UA’s Biennial art catalog. “The vehicular parts suggest movements through space and time.”

The sculpture also signifies rebirth through unconventional means, he said. In the mythology of the phoenix, the bird can be reborn out of its own ashes; thus, the machine parts show the interpretation of an industrialist phoenix.


One of the more widely recognized pieces is known as “Argyle,” the piece at the center of the Woods Quad. The creator, Craig Wedderspoon, is a lecturer at UA and works with both graduate and undergraduate art students.

“I took [the art class] because I knew who Craig Wedderspoon was,” said junior fine arts major Turner Woods, regarding Wedderspoon’s very cerebral approach to art. “It can be frustrating sometimes, how he stretches your mind, but he gets you through it well. He’s an excellent teacher, and anybody interested in art should take his class.”

“There are certain elaborate triangular patterns that give it the name,” said senior art technician Mark Stevenson. “It follows the pattern in an abstract etched aluminum form.”

Different patchworks of metal are visible in the sculpture because of renovations made after the April 27 tornado.

Goldie 71

Known popularly as the “Fallen Iron Giant,” Goldie 71 is a piece by Joe McCreary, a graduate student and residential artist at Sloss Furnace in Birmingham. Stevenson said the piece is symbolic of the end of the Industrial Revolution.

“When welding at Sloss Furnace was shut down, Joe took parts of old machinery and based the piece on the decomposition of the Industrial Revolution,” Stevenson said. “The piece symbolically shows industry fading back into the earth.”

An homage to Brancusi

One of the least conspicuous pieces is a monolith known as “An Homage to Brancusi.” Constructed by Billy Lee, this purchased piece is the oldest piece featured in the Woods Quad and was originally displayed in front of Moody Music Hall, but after 1993, the piece was moved to the inner yard near Garland Hall because of construction.

This sculpture was inspired by Brancusi’s most ambitious sculptures, the Endless Column.

“I am drawn towards forms that would activate space, recalling experiences, and thus giving that space energy and vitality,” Lee said about his piece. He said he believes the empty space and peculiar shaping help enhance the meaning of the monolith and create repetitive illusions.

Golden cage ball (no name given)

This sculpture, located near Manly Hall in the Woods Quad, is also a creation by Wedderspoon. This is the most recent art of this caliber to be displayed.

“It’s based on the expensive Tiffany lamps, which is similar to stained glass,” Stevenson said about the spherical sculpture. It accentuates the gold foil that surrounds the colorful glass. Often, the foil is the least observed characteristic about the work, but this sculpture focuses on that piece, he said.


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