TERRE HAUTE - "Look but don't touch" is a common admonishment when it comes to works of art but the creator of the latest addition to a sculpture garden at Indiana State University invites students and others to step inside his creations.
"By design and intent they are public sculptures," Ed McCullough said of his Meridian series of stainless steel forms. "Enjoy the piece. Come inside it. Sit down. Relax. Be a part of it."
At nine feet tall and with plenty of open space, it is easy for the viewer to take McCullough up on his offer to step inside Meridian II, an 1,800-pound work installed Thursday (Sept. 4) near Dreiser Hall, but the Cissna Park, Ill. resident said the work is not meant to dominate or overpower.
"The theme of the Meridian series is from the very word itself," McCullough said. "I think of meridians as prime meridians that circle the earth but not only in terms of geography. I took a cue from the Dakota Indians who say, 'The year is a circle around the world.' I like that. So there's a lot of metaphor connected with the piece and when you stand inside it you look around and there are constant arcs and circles going in all directions."
Born in Danville, Ill., in 1934, McCullough grew up in Chicago. He served a four-year tour of duty with the Navy in the late 1950s and the influence of the sea is evident in his sculpture that includes graceful, wavelike arcs.
"You can't get it out. You can leave the Navy but the Navy never leaves you," McCullough said.
Meridian II, valued at $35,000, is on a five-year loan to Indiana State. It was earlier displayed at Navy Pier in Chicago, Kankakee (Ill.)
Community College and South Bend Regional Airport. There are seven sculptures in McCullough's Meridian series. The latest, Meridian VII, was commissioned by the city of Chicago and stands outside the Chicago
Police Department headquarters.
McCullough's sculpture complements works by several students that were previously installed in a corridor stretching from Dreiser Hall to Hulman Memorial Student Union.
A former professor of art at Illinois Wesleyan University and a part-time art faculty member at Columbia College Chicago, McCullough said he is honored to have his work displayed with that of Indiana State students.
"Right now we have student work rotating through every two years to give the students a chance to work through their curriculum and an opportunity to show their work," said John Lustig, curator of University Visual Collections at Indiana State. "It was a logical leap for us to start including professional artists so that the campus community and the community in general can see a nice range and variety of art work that's being made today."
In addition to McCullough's Meridian series, K & M fabricated Salute, a sculpture by the late Marcia Wood, an art professor at Kalamazoo(Mich.) College, is displayed at the entrance of Indiana State's Center for the Performing and Fine Arts. That sculpture was a gift to the university from Wood's brother, Indianapolis auto dealer Tom Wood.
Though it's been more than 50 years since she attended Indiana State, Mathews said the university is still important to her.
"The fact that I'm still in touch with the university and want the best for it speaks for itself," she said. "I had a wonderful experience there. I had such good professors and a fine background. I just absolutely loved it."