Did You Know?: 'Transformation' sculpture

May 1, 2015  

Transformation Sculpture

The “Transformation” is located at the southwest end of Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts, at the intersection of Marsteller and Wood streets. (Purdue University photo)
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Quite literally transforming campus, the 40-foot bronze “Transformation” sculpture was installed on the south portion of campus to serve as more than an art form.

 “Transformation” was given to the University as a gift from the Class of 1952. The class raised over $860,000 for a scholarship fund and the commissioned piece that former President Steven Beering suggested. Beering discovered the sculptor, Faustino Aizkorbe, while vacationing in Europe and knew his work would accentuate the existing campus architecture.

“Transformation” was the Spanish artist’s first piece of commissioned work in the United States.

Before creating and installing the sculpture, Aizkorbe visited Purdue twice to meet with students, faculty and the Class of 1952. Aizkorbe returned a third time to help oversee the installation process. 

One of the primary purposes of installing “Transformation” on Agricultural Mall near Marsteller Street was to create a visual pathway from Agricultural Mall to the Bell Tower.

A physical pathway also emerged from the installation, as Purdue architects had to add a new sidewalk to the sculpture’s location. This addition, as well as landscape alterations, all contributed to the heightened aesthetics and pedestrian-friendly improvements to Agricultural Mall.

Aizkorbe said Purdue’s campus architecture inspired him while creating “Transformation.” He was reminded of the Romanesque pillars that support the world’s great buildings, and he wanted to incorporate Purdue’s engineering legacy while acknowledging its continuously changing nature through the sculpture’s unfurling, symmetrical pattern.  

According to the University Visual Arts Committee, the sculpture “incorporates an organic type of movement that symbolizes Purdue’s continual growth and development even as it remains a solid pillar of learning.”

Aizkorbe also made a series of paintings when he was planning “Transformation” to help him visualize the undertaking. During his third trip to campus, he donated these paintings to Purdue. They’re currently displayed in the Civil Engineering main office.

The final piece that Aizkorbe left behind during that visit was a smaller, iron and bronze sculpture to pay tribute to Beering. Located next to the front entrance of Beering Hall, the four railroad tracks with a bronze torso represent Beering’s impact on Purdue.

On April 20, 2002, former President Martin C. Jischke dedicated “Transformation” during the Discover Purdue campaign, which was named in honor of the creation of Discovery Park and meant to highlight all of the University’s accomplishments and aspirations.  

Writer: Kourtney Freiburger, 49-62993, kfreibu@purdue.edu 

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