Home Local News Sculpture created by Ho-Chunk artist Truman Lowe returns home to UW-Madison after...

Sculpture created by Ho-Chunk artist Truman Lowe returns home to UW-Madison after 26 years

Effigy: Bird Form (Photo: Veronika Dethart, UW-Madison Facilities Planning & Management)

An official dedication of the sculpture honoring Ho-Chunk artist and Professor Emeritus Truman Lowe’s life and work will take place on the UW-Madison campus this Friday, Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. After several stopovers, the artwork has made a final journey back home to UW-Madison.

Lowe was born in 1944 and grew up in a Ho-Chunk community near Black River Falls, which heavily influenced his future work in bridging together many styles of Native American fine art. The 20 feet wide and 12 feet long sculpture weighing more than 900 pounds named Effigy: Bird Form was made 26 years ago and is inspired by the ancestral mounds and effigies throughout the Midwest, and the remembrance of Ho-Chunk history and culture.


Professor Emeritus Truman Lowe works on Effigy: Bird Form (Photo: Hooper)

“Truman was a beloved and inspiring teacher and mentor whose work was deeply rooted in his Ho-Chunk heritage. It’s a special occasion to welcome Truman’s artwork back home to UW-Madison,” Carla Vigue, UW-Madison Director of Tribal Relations, said in a release. “Truman’s unique talent seamlessly bridged time and cultural connections through art and the natural world. It’s a gift to have his artwork on campus for all to enjoy.”   

Lowe went on to attend UW-Madison to receive his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1973 and soon joined the School of Education’s Art Department to become a full professor by 1989. In 1997, he was commissioned to create a sculpture and turned to Hooper Custom Metals to help make his vision material.

“Given his long career at UW-Madison, his Ho-Chunk roots and his deep reverence for both the University and the mounds on campus, it is most fitting that Effigy: Bird Form returns to Madison and finds its permanent home on campus,” Jo Ortel, author of Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe and Nystrom Professor Emerita of Art History at Beloit College, said in a release.

Solid aluminum rods are the makeup of the latticed sculpture made into the shape of a bird. Hooper Custom Metals Foreman Larry Sailing remembers working with Lowe on the project in 1997 and was happy to get it back into the shape he would want it in for its return to Madison.

“It’s an honor for me to have the opportunity to work on the sculpture again. When I heard it was coming home to Madison, I was thrilled for the chance to help restore the piece,” said Sailing in a release. “Staying true to Truman’s vision was extremely important to me. For example, I knew he only wanted the top of the aluminum polished to a shine and the rest left natural. It’s how he wanted it to look. Truman was a wonderful person, very soft-spoken and kind. Working with him to create the sculpture was one of the highlights of my career.”

Friday’s dedication ceremony will take place at the site of the statue north of Van Hise Hall on the southwest corner of North Charter Street and Observatory Drive on the UW campus.   

To learn more about the event and see a map of the sculpture location, visit the UW link here