Zephyr by Steve Wooldridge

TITLE: Zephyr
ARTIST: Steve Wooldridge
DATE: 1998
MATERIALS: stainless steel
DIMENSIONS: 13′ x 2′ x 10′
TYPE: sculpture

Zephyr (1998) is composed of seven shapes, each signaling a different meaning. According to artist Steven Woolridge, the rectangular base represents the core of education; the side-by-side cylinders refer to the wheels of progress; the triangle symbolizes a mode of transportation designed for speed; the small cylinder that supports the hoop signifies fortitude and determination; the hoop itself stands for the circle of life; the long pole represents ambition; and the hollow scroll stands for knowledge.

What do you reckon it all adds up to? What story might Woolridge be trying to tell? And why did he choose to dedicate the piece to today’s youth?

In Greek mythology, Zephyrus was the personification of the west wind, the bringer of light spring and early summer breezes. The Greeks are central to our imagination of progress. The wind is a force. It can be refreshing but also disruptive. It can be chaotic, but it can also be harnessed.

In Iroquois tradition, by contrast, the west wind is brought by the Panther, ugly and fierce.

How might the Iroquois understanding help us think about the nature of progress in light of certain ambitions? Are there new winds that can help us achieve the balance this sculpture demonstrates? What kind of knowledge and ambitions would we necessary to harness them?

To learn more about this artwork, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zephyr_(Wooldridge), which includes information created by Herron School of Art and Design and IUPUI Museum Studies faculty and students in 2009 as part of “A Survey of IUPUI Public Art.”