CyPix: Four Seasons Fountain, before and after

Before 1941, the fountain in front of Memorial Union looked like this:

Memorial Union and fountain on Iowa State University Campus, before 1941. Christian Petersen Papers, RS 26/2/52, box 6, folder 7.

Memorial Union and fountain on Iowa State University campus, before 1941. Christian Petersen Papers, RS 26/2/52, box 6, folder 7.

But 1941 saw the unveiling of sculptor Christian Petersen‘s Fountain of the Four Seasons, based on the Osage song collected by ISU Agronomist J. C. Cunningham: “Lo, I come to the tender planting. Lo, a tender shoot breaks forth. Lo, I collect the golden harvest. Lo, there is joy in my house.”

Unveiling of the Four Seasons fountain by Christian Petersen in 1941. Christian Petersen Papers, RS 26/2/52, box 6, folder 7.

Unveiling of the Fountain of the Four Seasons by Christian Petersen in 1941. Christian Petersen Papers, RS 26/2/52, box 6, folder 7.

The sculpture includes four Native American women facing in each of the four cardinal directions. One is planting seeds, another is nurturing a corn plant, a third harvests corn, and the fourth nurses a child.

Christian Petersen served as Artist-in-Residence from 1935-1961. He completed 11 major sculptures, several of which can be seen on campus, as well as numerous busts, reliefs, portraits, and small sculptures.

To find out more, check out the Christian Petersen Papers, RS 26/2/52 in Special Collections.

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