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A Comprehensive Walking Tour of the Horrible Sculptures on Notre Dame’s Campus

The University of Notre Dame is known for many things: football, Catholic tradition, having not one but two dining halls… but one thing ND is definitely not known for is its open-air sculpture art.

If you were an ambitious private university in the ’80s or ’90s and believed you had a chance of being a top ten school by the turn of the 21st Century (uh oh…), you simply had to invest in the liberal arts by installing as many “avante garde” statues across your campus as possible to bolster your status as an intellectual institution.

In the modern day, the rusty remains of these pieces “art” litter our campus. Let us, as a tour group, explore the many monoliths of artistic expression around our school and examine their deeper meanings.

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Most students’ first sight of Notre Dame is a majestic view of the Dome while coming down University Ave. For the lucky few who first enter from library circle, however, they are treated to the incredible view of:


Dirty grey rectangles!

Yes, this delightful artpiece encapsulates everything one could say about the University’s hometown of South Bend: it’s decaying, badly placed, and surrounded by economy cars. From the back we see that the artist has included a special rectangle at an angle which seems like it might be good to lie on, but definitely is not!

No homeless people will be finding a place to rest on this campus!

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The next stop on our tour is the hidden artistic Eden of Mod Quad.

Here you can see a statue of a flat-chested high school junior dancing the Prom away in her sister’s hand-me-down dress.

…or is that supposed to be Jesus? Hard to tell, but whoever it is could sure use a bra!

Next, we have a study in the extreme spiritual burden of carrying a boomerang around the hospice.

The artist wanted to stress that such a burden does have its upsides, especially when it comes to lifting and firming the buttocks.

This artist spent hours sculpting this tasty, tasty gluteus to drive home the point that if one is going to spend a lot of spiritual energy working out their butt, they should also be sure not to skip leg, arm, chest and ab day.

Finally, we see a monument dedicated to putting the absolute minimum effort into something and then it falling apart anyway.

The artist thought that leaning a chunk of granite on its side would be enough to pass as a “statue,” unfortunately:

Ouch. It all came crashing down.

Art critics are still debating whether this piece was meant to symbolize the futility of an upperclassmen attempting to raise their GPA, or to symbolize that one baker who tries and fails to make a one-layer Genoise cake in like episode 6 of The Great British Baking Show.

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Now we bring our tour to South Quad.

This piece is found outside of… Badin? …Howard?… uh… maybe Walsh…anyway, this piece is found outside of a girl’s dorm and is probably a comment on the unhealthy body standards placed on women today. That perfect “square on the top and bottom third and very, very skinny in the middle” body type has been in vogue with fashion magazines for years, and the artist thought that this piece could be a daily reminder for strength.

The rock on the left represents the average woman.

Continuing down South Quad, we are greeted by a grand beacon, standing proud and ironic outside of Riley Hall of Art and Design.

A veritable gateway. But to what?

Industrial decay? A decent place to pee on your way to LaFun?

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Next is a piece with a fun story:

This concrete pad used to host a welded metal box sculpture, which was essentially a dumpster. The problem was there was no sign saying the sculpture was in fact an art installation, and it was bolted to the ground. People used to dump their trash in it all the time, and so groundskeepers would often have to climb inside and shovel out all of the garbage. They eventually got rid of the sculpture, but the pad remains.
Could this be a metaphor for the human condition?

You. Tell. Me.

Next is that patio thing that I forgot to write down the name of:

Witness the chunky, weirdly proportioned metal people… fetch water? Probably a bad idea considering this school’s history with E. coli.

This man is sad because he couldn’t find a size 19-wide shoe at the Foot Locker. All the other statues make fun of his one very large leg and his-

OH HELL NO! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?!?!

OH DEAR GOD!

I THINK I’M GOING TO BE SICK!!

WHY IS IT IN BLACKFACE?!?!

WHY DOES ITS BELLYBUTTON GO ALL THE WAY THROUGH!?!?!?

RUN!!!!!!!!

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Oh goodness. That was a close one. I guess good art makes you feel things, even when those things are total confusion and complete terror.
Anyway, looks like we’re at whatever we call the quad with DeBart.

First we have a circle.

Hmmm…

Maybe it turns into an art if we look at it from a different angle…

Nope.

Hey, wait! Is that a playset in the background?! No way!

Let’s go down the slide!!

Aww damn. Looks like more “art.”

This piece was built to emulate the visceral reaction of having one’s childlike sense of glee smashed under the foot of 4-decade old aquamarine fiberglass.

Seriously, I would have preferred a slide.

This art piece is…

Oops! This is just a lopsided trashcan in the middle of the grass…

Wait! That’s what everything we’ve seen so far has been!

It follows that by Notre Dame standards: this is an art!!!

Amazing.

Anyway, back to the…what the hell?

Is this… okay, I guess someone, at some point, paid money to have this installed.

Obviously, this is supposed to… encapsulate… feelings… of a life which is… not… fulfilled?

Am I the only one who finds this piece to be weirdly lesbian-esque?

Like, there’s two V shaped things and like… look at it! There’s definitely something sapphic going on here.

Just me? Okay.

Our final piece on this tour (there’s also some stupid red and yellow things by the stadium, but we’re already at over 1000 words and I ain’t getting

paid for this):

SEE! It’s like a pile of rocks which is like paleolithic or something, but there’s a COCA-COLA TRUCK in the background!

Right? Totally some excellent juxtaposition of the primal human nature and corporate America or whatever.

ART.

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Anyway, this concludes our tour. Have fun on your mile walk back to Library Circle! And be sure to take the long way unless you want to see this again:

 

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