by Liv

The Iconic Blue Sculpture

We’ve all seen it – the big blue sculpture outside of the College of Design. As a recognizable icon of the west side of campus, does anyone really know the story behind it? The fact is, most Iowa State students will come and go without ever knowing the answers to the who, what, when, and why of this famous yet mysterious art piece. The existence of this iconic sculpture is quite interesting and there’s a story to be told. Here’s all you need to know about the blue sculpture in front of the College of Design!

Artist: John Jennings (BS 1979 Distributed Studies)

Title: Sequence

Date: 1979

Medium: Plate steel

Dimensions: 16 feet high, 25 feet long

Weight: 22,000 pounds

Cost: approx. $10,000 for materials at the time

The story starts here

The sculpture was built for a focus project for the spring student art competition on campus in 1979.  John Jennings, the sculptor, experimented with about 25 different models before coming up with his final design to then build large scale. The form was made to assemble and disassemble using 15 modular plate-steel units that could be bolted together and painted cobalt blue. Assembly and disassembly was a requirement in order to enable its transportation to varying display locations.

Once assembled on the concrete pad at the southeast corner of the College of Design, the sculpture was planned to be on display for only two years. The sculpture would then be moved so that the concrete foundation could house many more sculptures on display.

Happy ending

At the time, the thought was that the sculpture would be replaced by a variety of sculptures at different times. However, Sequence, as he titled it was later decided to be a permanent icon outside of the College of Design and is now recognized by an entire student body and our alumni!

Long story short

So long story short…The giant steel blue sculpture was created by a fellow ISU student himself. With no intentions to leave installed forever, Iowa State decided that it was a fitting art piece that will be displayed indefinitely at the southeast corner of the College of Design! John’s parents, Al and Ann Jennings whom both served on the Foundation Board of Governors at one time, have paid to have it refurbished.

Mystery Solved!

This information comes from a story that was published in The Iowa Stater in June 1979. (The Iowa Stater was a newspaper for ISU faculty and staff.)

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