The Return of Acorn Man

Purchased with a generous gift, a public art sculpture finds a permanent home on the Medford/Somerville campus

sculpture near Tisch Library

Acorns usually don’t start showing up around campus until the fall. But a particularly noticeable one returned to Tufts this summer to take up permanent residence.

A version of Colossal AcornHead, a five-foot bronze sculpture by Vermont artist Leslie Fry that was exhibited outside Tisch Library on the Medford/Somerville campus from 2012 to 2013, was reinstalled on June 26. It is part of the Tufts University Art Gallery’s Museum Without Walls.

After the sculpture left Tufts in the summer of 2013, it went to the DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, Mass. That version will continue to be displayed at other venues outside Massachusetts. A second version was commissioned for the university, with funding from the Montreal-based Gelmont Foundation.

“There was no question in my mind when this gift came forward that we would like to have the Colossal AcornHead back at Tufts—permanently,” says Amy Ingrid Schlegel, director of galleries and collections.

Colossal AcornHead is, indeed, a giant acorn fused with the features of a human head. The style of the piece is influenced by ancient Assyrian, Thracian and Archaic Greek art and incorporates details from medieval architecture. The centers of the eyes are cast from real acorns.

“In my art, the natural world connects with the human-made world,” Fry has said. “As a narrative, I imagine that Colossal AcornHead is longing to be a real acorn—to be released from its state of artistic abstraction and to return to nature. Our heads have done great damage to the earth, and I think Colossal AcornHead is a good reminder of our essential connectedness.”

Fry’s public sculptures and installations have been specific responses to architecture, history and landscape. Commissions have included Wave Hill in New York; Songchu Art Valley International Sculpture Park in Korea; Kohler Arts Center in Wisconsin; and Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montreal. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the United States and abroad. She is a native of Montreal, and studied at the University of Vermont, the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College and the Central School of Art and Design in London.

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