Happenings in McCabe: Statues, an Exhibit, and a Book

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

by Dougal Sutherland


Three statues, made by faculty member Phillip Stern, will be on display until February 2010 in McCabe Library. The pieces, titled “Tripeds,” were shown in the List Gallery before moving to McCabe this summer.

The Tripeds, formerly known as “Hybrids,” were named for their organic shapes showing the range of human evolution. According to Stern, who works as Associate Director of Publications for Design, the Tripeds were meant to show a hybrid, adaptive human figure.

According to reference librarian Pam Harris, the Tripeds also mark the success of a long-term effort to use the entry and lounge in McCabe Library as exhibition spaces for artwork.

When asked about showing his work in McCabe, Stern said that he was “excited about the opportunity posed by the Library’s interest in having more art on display.”

“Works are enriched by the lives they lead after being made, so to speak. Whenever they go to a new venue, they attract new connotations,” said Stern. “In the library, the Tripeds have more to do with listening, focusing, paying close attention to one’s thoughts, than they had in the gallery exhibit.”

The statues will leave the Library in February to appear as set pieces in the Faculty Dance Concert. Stern says that the concert, scheduled for February 13, will be an opportunity for a “whole other meaning” to be spun for the Tripeds.

Following the Dance Concert, the Tripeds have no specific plans as of yet. Stern, however, said that he would be open to entering the statues in future galleries.

“The way we see the works accumulates richness over time,” said Stern, “the net effect being that they help us feel more connected with and responsible for the world around us.”

Town and Gown

Artifacts and documents will fill the display cases in the McCabe Library lobby until October 9, 2009, to prepare for the upcoming book Swarthmore Borough. The exhibit, called Town and Gown, uses the collections of the Friends Historical Library to paint a picture of Swarthmore’s history.

The items in the exhibit range from photographs of athletic events to a metal spring that was part of the first couch in the Parrish Parlors. The items, chosen by the authors of Swarthmore Borough, Susanna Morikawa and Pat O’Donnell, are meant to correlate with the book while also adding variety to the book’s content.

Swarthmore Borough

Swarthmore Borough, a book outlining the history of the College and surrounding town, will be released later this month. The book, being published by Arcadia Publishing, was written by Susanna Morikawa and Pat O’Donnell, researchers at the Friends Historical Library.

The book, which is part of a local history series, uses photographs taken largely from the archives of the Friends Historical Library and combines them with captions and other documents to create an image of Swarthmore’s development that is both visual and written.

“We wanted to share the riches…of this collection with not only the College community but also with the local community,” said O’Donnell, adding that roughly 92% of the images and documents referred to in the book can be found in the Friends Historical Library.

The book, said O’Donnell and Morikawa, began in 1993, when they were asked to write a brief history of Swarthmore in honor of the Borough’s centennial. The authors sold it at the centennial exhibit and then self-published it soon after, with a print run of about a year.

“Then, for the next at least eleven or twelve years we talked about doing a new edition,” said O’Donnell. “There were so many more images that we had gotten.”

Morikawa and O’Donnell were finally given the chance to publish these new images when the Swarthmore Historical Society was approached by Arcadia Publishing and asked to create a local history of the Borough.

As Morikawa and O’Donnell began to compile photographs and descriptions, other members of the local community started to offer their own pieces of history.

“A few other[s] – two or three different collectors – wanted to share their material with us,” said O’Donnell. “Just wonderful stuff.”

Keith Lockhart, a Delaware County resident, was one of these contributors, offering copies of historical images that he had collected over the years. Local families also came forth, donating copies of images along with family stories.

One family was able to share pictures of Swarthmore taken by a local ancestor. “I mean it’s an absolutely wonderful collection,” said O’Donnell. The photographer “documented not only where the pictures were taken but also when and what developer he used.” Morikawa agreed, saying, “They’re dated, ‘1898, 4:00 in the afternoon.’”

In Swarthmore Borough, one will find images ranging from football team photographs featuring “Tiny” Maxwell, who is said to have almost caused a national ban on collegiate football, to aerial views of Parrish Hall surrounded by fields.

The book will be released on September 28, 2009, and will be available for purchase in the college bookstore. The list price is $21.99. The release will be followed by a book signing on October 4 from 2PM-4PM in McCabe Library.

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