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New member of bear family moves into Ittleson Quad

‘Indomitable,’ the life-size bear, weighs 3.2 tons and is covered with a half-inch-thick bronze shell

Administrators officially welcomed Indomitable, a new life-size kodiak bear sculpture, to campus Saturday in a ceremony at the sculpture’s new home on Ittleson Quadrangle.

The sculpture was installed Oct. 28 ­in front of the Nelson Fitness Center.

Nick Bibby, the artist who created the sculpture, joined President Christina Paxson, Director of Athletics Jack Hayes and Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Gallery in List Art Center and a member of the University’s Public Art Committee, for the dedication ceremony, attended by about 80 people. Administrators thanked Jonathan Nelson ’77 P’07 P’09 and H. Anthony Ittleson ’60 for donating some of the funds used to construct the sculpture.

The Public Art Committee, which procures artwork for University spaces, commissioned the creation of Indomitable through the Percent-for-Art program, which guarantees that 1 percent of all funds used in a specific building project go to art creations and installations for the space under development, Conklin said. She said additional funding came from Nelson, who also helped finance the Nelson Fitness Center, and Ittleson.

The statue weighs 3.2 tons and consists of a half-inch thick shell of bronze and a stainless steel support system, Bibby said. Bibby is a British artist based in Devon, England, according to his website.

The bear “stands for excellence, stands for unity (and) stands for a first-class institution,” he said.

Hayes used the occasion to tout the Bears’ 27-0 football victory over Penn Saturday. “Today at the stadium, the Brown bear stood for total dominance,” he said.

Paxson opened her remarks with an anecdote about a recent experience with Brown’s favorite animal. “I was in Alaska last summer hiking, (and) I saw one of these bears from a distance. Seeing the sculpture, I’m glad I didn’t see it up close,” she said.

The bear mascot is a “good symbol for all students” for its strength, power and independence, Paxson said. She added that she hopes the statue will “motivate anyone who walks by to recognize their inner strength.”

Administrators initially discussed moving Bruno, the bear sculpture on the Main Green, to Ittleson Quad, Conklin said. But Public Art Committee members ultimately decided against moving the old bear sculpture because they wanted a bigger sculpture that more appropriately fit Ittleson Quad’s large green space, she said.

Committee members approached Bibby last year about creating a new bear sculpture because the British artist “really studies animals,” Conklin said. “He’s an avid self-taught zoologist and naturalist.”

“He creates really beautiful sculpture (and) makes pieces that are very evocative,” she added.

In the dedication ceremony, Bibby said receiving the University’s request to create Indomitable was  “the dream phone call” because the project offered a larger-scale opportunity than his usual artwork.

The design process for Indomitable involved collaboration between Bibby and administrators on figuring out how to best portray the newest representation of Brown’s mascot.

Committee members agreed that they did not want an overly aggressive bear, Conklin said. Bibby said he wanted to avoid creating a “couch-potato zoo bear.”

Bibby completed the sculpture at his studio in England Oct. 2, and Indomitable was then transported to the United States, Conklin said. The new sculpture is the sixth work commissioned by the Public Art Committee in its mission to help fill campus spaces with more artwork, she added.

Some students who attended the dedication ceremony said they approve of Indomitable becoming a fixture on campus.

“It’s a great representation of Brown and students in general,” said Renee Edelman ’17, a member of the gymnastics team.

Sebastian Levin ’15, a member of the wrestling team, described the statue as “awesome.” He said he saw the statue’s installation last week while he was at practice and was surprised that it was “way bigger than expected.”


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