Any visitor to the Coates University Library may at first overlook the colorful and extensive collection of art hanging from the famous red brick walls. What most people never realize is that, not just in the library, but all over campus, a large array of art and sculptures with rich histories surround them.
“It encourages an awareness of the importance of art in our lives,” said Elizabeth Ward, the chair for the Department of Art and Art History.
Much of the art found in the library and also in Northrup comes from the collection of Jim Dicke, a Trinity alumnus and member of the Board of Trustees. Dicke is married to Janet Dicke, a Trinity alumna. A portrait of the couple can be found in Northrup. The name Dicke is not unfamiliar to students, especially art students who frequent the Jim and Janet Dicke Art Building.
“I love the art in Northrup at the front, the fountain and also the paintings that show some of the important people of Trinity,” said Jacqueline Golden, a sophomore art student.
Preceding his donation of the art pieces, Dicke donated roughly 800 books on art and artists to the library. Some of the books are so rare and expensive, students can only find them in Special Collections.
“We now have one of the finest modern art book collections certainly in Texas,” said Diane Graves, university librarian and professor.
Dicke even paints his own pieces, one of which can be found in the library next to the southern staircase.
Graves said that particular piece, though untitled, is one of the more popular ones in the library because of the way the paint has been spun around the canvas with a potter’s wheel.
“It’s using physical forces as a chance element in the work,” Ward said, yet it still leaves Dicke in charge of the paint and its placement and the canvas and the speed at which is spins and every other variable.
“As pretty as this library is, those red brick walls really needed something and to have those large-scale works on them now is just the finishing touch this building needed and sets the feel in here that is just right for a liberal arts college,” Graves said.
Right next to the popular painting is the even more famous “Man’s Evolving Images: Printing and Writing” by James Sicner. The mural on the staircase is a huge attraction for students, staff, faculty, and visitors alike. The mural is 15 feet by 80 feet, which makes it the largest montage in the world.
“It was just this summer we had it cleaned and what they call conserved, so if there were any little flaws in it they were fixed in a way that would prevent them from having more problems,” Graves said.
Art conservator Anne Zanikos spearheaded the restoration and remarked that the mural was in very good shape.
Outside the library is the “Conversation with Magic Stones,” by English modernist sculptor Dame Barbara Hepworth. The rumor is that if students study by the Magic Stones, they will get an “A” on their next test.
“The Large Anterior Form” by Henry Moore is another student favorite, though it is more commonly referred to as the Pregnant Lady. Found on the Coates Esplanade, it serves as a centerpiece for all sorts of student activities and events.
It seems that wherever you go on campus, there is some sort of significant piece of artwork nearby. Ward said that it is “part of the liberal arts experience.” So while most students head to class with their heads in the clouds and their headphones over their ears, they might just be missing out on a significant piece of Trinity’s culture right in front of their eyes.