Sculpture installation to celebrate College of Liberal Arts' 50th anniversary

April 3, 2014  

Preston Jackson

Preston Jackson 
Download Photo

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A sculpture by Preston Jackson that captures the diversity of people's ongoing journeys will be installed at Purdue University to celebrate the College of Liberal Arts' 50th anniversary.

"Distant Paths," a bronze and stainless steel sculpture, will be Jackson's first permanently installed work in Indiana. Installation will begin, weather permitting, early this month. The sculpture will be dedicated at 3 p.m. April 11 at an event that is free and open to the public at Founders Park, which is located between Beering and University halls. If it rains, the dedication will be moved to Stone Hall.

This artwork is funded by the Florence H. Lonsford Endowment, which is restricted to purchasing artwork.

The sculpture, which is approximately 13 feet long, 8 feet wide and 14 feet high, is of four people on the move from different parts of the world and is meant to capture the history of immigration. It is inspired by Jackson's own African-American cultural experiences. The semi-abstract style of the sculpture is influenced by the collage techniques of Romare Bearden.

"Mr. Jackson's magnificent piece shows where we come from and where we are going, which is a very fitting message as we celebrate the 50-year history of the College of Liberal Arts," said Irwin Weiser, Justin S. Morrill Dean of Liberal Arts. 

Jackson is a professor emeritus of sculpture at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and owner of The Raven Gallery, home of the Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, Ill. He has bronze sculptures in Chicago and other Illinois cities including Decatur, Springfield and Waukegan.

Jackson's work has been shared with the Purdue community before during a 2011 joint exhibit with the Black Cultural Center and the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette. And in 1992 the Black Cultural Center partnered with Purdue Galleries for an exhibition of his works titled "Preston Jackson - Baobabs and Other Stuffs." Two of Jackson's works, "Travels of My Seven Sisters" and "Haints and History," are on long-term loan at Purdue North Central.

"Preston Jackson is known regionally for his pieces and focusing on African-American heritage, and we are honored that such a grand piece will be part of the Purdue landscape," said Harry Bulow, head of the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts.

"Distant Paths" is the third permanent sculpture that the Florence H. Lonsford Endowment has commissioned in five years. In 2009 a bronze horse by Deborah Butterfield was installed near the South Campus Plaza, and in 2013 "Brickhead Conversations" by James Tyler was installed in front of Yue-Kong Pao Hall.

The College of Liberal Arts, which was originally part of the School of Science, Education, and Humanities was created in 1963 to formally recognize the arts, humanities and social sciences as integral areas of teaching and research at Purdue. Today, the College of Liberal Arts includes the departments of anthropology, English, history, philosophy, political science and sociology, and the Brian Lamb School of Communication, School of Languages and Cultures, School of Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts. 

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723,

Sources: Irwin Weiser, 765-494-3661,

Harry Bulow, 765-494-3054, 

Related websites:

College of Liberal Arts

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2014-17 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Integrity Statement | Copyright Complaints | Brand Toolkit | Maintained by Marketing and Media

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact us at so we can help.