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Madison Rd. sculpture finds new home at Richmond, Ind.'s Earlham College

smiling woman in winter clothing sits inside a red circle that is on top of crossed beams. Behind her is a snowy campus scene
Dan Oetting
Earlham College
Earlham student Thea Clarkberg sits inside the sculpture titled "Xs and Os."

A large-scale abstract sculpture by contemporary artist Rob Lorenson is now a centerpiece on Earlham College's campus in Richmond, Ind.

"Absolutely beautiful — it's about nine feet tall, and it's in that classic red-orange color that's similar to classic works by artists like Alexander Calder* and Keith Haring," explains Christian Adams, art curator for Earlham. "It's set at the entrance to our campus in front of the chemistry and science and technology buildings with 'the heart' — which is the center of our campus — in the background."

Lorenson is a faculty member at Bridgewater State University in Mass. His large-scale metal sculptures "explore the relationships of space," according to a statement. The artist was in Richmond during the installation and met with faculty and students and heard their insights on the piece.

"It's abstract and it means something different to everybody who looks at it. You see your own sort of creativity in it," says Adams.

man in work jacket, cap and sunglasses stands beside a large-scale sculpture in red. The sculpture is an abstract-looking X and O.
Dan Oetting
Earlham College
Artist Rob Lorenson with his work "Xs and Os"

"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," college Trustee Ian Henry says in a release. "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."

Henry, a 2001 Earlham graduate, and his wife, Kirsten Eismin-Henry, were the lead donors on the project to acquire the artwork and bring it to Earlham.

Adams says the new location near "the heart" of campus is perfect.

"It's a great place to pose for photos and see both the past and the present imagery of our campus together," he explains. "Earlham has been around since 1847 and we've got a lot of historic buildings, and (now) we've got this contemporary red sculpture kind of balancing the past and the present."

Adams says this is the first of what he hopes are many sculptures that will be added to campus to "inspire our students and beautify our campus."

*You can see artist Alexander Calder's 20 Leaves and an Apple at the Cincinnati Art Museum. It was originally commissioned for and installed in the lobby of Cincinnati's Terrace Plaza Hotel.

Corrected: April 26, 2022 at 9:19 AM EDT
After publication, WVXU learned ADC Fine Art recently moved to the West End from 2124 Madison Road. The sculpture, Xs and Os, was displayed at that location on the corner of Madison and Lavinia, not in the West End. The story has been updated to reflect this correction.
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.