Tin whimsy greets U visitors

Platonic FigureA towering "Tin Man" now greets visitors to the courtyard between Lind Hall and the new mechanical engineering facilities. The whimsical "Platonic Figure," a 35-foot-tall, 6,000-pound stainless steel statue stands on seven-foot limestone columns near the Mechanical Engineering Building's south entrance. Award-winning Minneapolis sculptor Andrew Leicester, who has created 20 major public artworks in the U.S., designed the sculpture as a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci's famous drawing "Vitruvian Man."

The piece, dubbed Tin Man by University faculty and staff, stands with feet apart, arms raised, holding a curved steel bar. The sculpture's torso and limbs are created with conical forms, while its helmet-like head is reminiscent of robots depicted in 1950s pop culture.

Leicester interviewed dozens of faculty and staff before designing the sculpture. "Ultimately", he says, "I want the sculpture to be a memorable icon within an environment that is not easy to remember or find your way around."

Mechanical engineering professor Steven Girshick says the figure evokes "a vaguely humorous feeling that emanates from the robot-like appearance, expressing our ambivalence about the ever-increasing role of technology in our lives."

The sculpture was funded by the University's Public Art on Campus Program, which commissions and purchases artwork to enhance the University's physical and aesthetic environments.