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Sculpture Dimensions:

21' w. x 15" h. x 3" d. 

Media: Cast Bronze

4th Floor Reception Area

Exterior wall of Morse Board Room

Levitt Center for University Advancement  

Iowa City, Iowa

Building A Foundation was begun as a tribute to Darrell Wyrick and his single-minded, indefatigable efforts toward establishing and building, day-by-day and year-by-year, for more than 36 years, an invaluable organization to serve the University of Iowa. The success of this organization—the University of Iowa Foundation — could not have been predicted nor even imagined when Wyrick became its first full-time employee and field director in 1962 and the total assets of contributions less than $500,000, with less than $75,000 in contributions that year. When Wyrick stepped down as president on July 1, 1998 and was named president emeritus, the total level of assets had risen more than a thousandfold to over $600 million and total gift commitments for 1998 were more than $100 million.

Even more importantly, Wyrick led the Foundation and its staff in establishing long-lasting friendships between the University and its alumni and friends who have become loyal and enthusiastic allies supporting the University in many ways in addition to their generous financial contributions to the UI Foundation.

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PANEL ONE Waves of Time and Memory wash up on shore...a lone, small tree stands with five rocks...raw materials for foundation-building by each of us? the stones representing a family of five? part of the landscape for the rugged journey ahead?



. . . symbols of the five hundred thousand dollars in total assets in 1962, the first year of

Darrell Wyrick’s leadership of the UI Foundation?

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PANEL TWO The sun rises, the curtain lifts, as in so many beginnings from time past...but the sun’s structure is partially that of the ceiling  of the sculpture court of the UI Museum of Art –


The product of the Foundation’s and Wyrick’s first capital campaign in the mid-1960’s, establishing for the  

first time a major art center and museum at the University of Iowa.

An arena...a place of action where one can participate or be a spectator...its playing surface in this relief has only a center line and a center circle allowing each of us to select our own “game” to play.


The Carver-Hawkeye Sports Arena, another capitol project of the UI Foundation, opened in 1983, also has become a symbol for the wide variety of University events and activities based there and around the campus which enrich its community and the state of Iowa.

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PANEL THREE Ribbons of DNA connect the images... form a connection in time ... flow through the work and connect one project with another; one life with another; in fact links all of humanity. Old Capitol as symbol embodies our human need for education, for making history and for making laws to ensure civility amongst us all.


Like the strands of DNA, the UI Foundation continues to link friends and alumni with each other and with the University. To alumni and friends, Old Capitol, the first Capitol of Iowa and the center of the University of Iowa campus (restored for the United States Bicentennial in 1976 as a capitol project of the UI Foundation) symbolizes the University and its enrichment of the lives of generations.

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PANEL FOUR At the center, the basic element of Fire – the flame of knowledge offered by a cupped hand – sheds its light. Are sparks from the flame in joyful celebration? Of is it kindling yet other flames to light dark recesses of ignorance?


The symbol of the UI Foundation’s Iowa Endowment 2000 campaign, the UI Foundation’s first campaign focused on endowment, was similar. But because of the success of that campaign, the strengthened fire,

the bright flame of enlightenment central to the University’s mission, no longer needs to be shielded by

another hand because it has grown and continues to gather force.

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PANEL FIVE More trees have joined the single tree and there are ladders within the grove. Do ladders signify aspiration or movement from one realm to another? . . . are they ladders of construction? DNA, our life connector, loops over the forest, continuing to join all the images together in a steady flow encompassing knowledge represented here by an aggregate of major educational areas in the University itself.


The buildings – the Hardin Health Sciences Library, the Pappajohn Business Building, the Seamans Center

for Engineering Arts & Sciences and Schaeffer Hall – are representative of the entire University and

nearly every University building and the activities within them which have benefited greatly from

private support through the UI Foundation.

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PANEL SIX Reverberations – sound waves – movement

to the farthest reaches flow out from the block of buildings.  At the same time DNA strands continue to pulse through the work to the venerable, firmly-rooted mature tree standing by the stone foundation which continues to be built.


Do the stones represent that solid base of friends and support built throughout the life of the UI Foundation by the Foundation “Family” of staff and supporters? ... the thousandfold increase in its productivity from the UI Foundation’s beginning?  ...the promise of the future?

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PANEL SEVEN Flames, perhaps generated by earlier sparks, are borne on the waves of future Time and future Memory. Is it a paradox to have fire supported by water? Or to have younger, smaller combustible trees in pursuit of fire as the mature tree stands linked to them? Is there not risk to be weighted throughout our lives as we strive to reach goals? The answers, as in all of our future undertakings, are endless and invite our contemplation.

Many people have been curious about how the sculpture Building a Foundation was made.

As in all works of the imagination, there are several concrete steps in the process of creating an artwork in addition to its conception.

The site selected by the artist, a challenging curved wall, was endorsed by the Levitt Center’s Design Architect, Charles Gwathmey of Gwathmey Siegel and Associates, New York. Wood and Styrofoam patterns were constructed, conforming to the wall’s curve and overlaid with plastilene (a non-hardening handmade oil clay) into which the relief was modeled and carved.

Making negative molds from the patterns and pulling microcrystalline wax positives from each started the casting process in the foundry. Ceramic slurry painted on the wax positive was hardened by heat to form a ceramic shell. During heating, the wax melts out, leaving a cavity that replicates the original pattern. Molten bronze poured into the ceramic shell, then cooled and removed, completed the almost “magical” transformation.

The seven panels’ patterns were trucked to and from the foundry by the artist, who also participated, after casting was complete in the finish work which involved cut-off, weld-in, sandblasting, grinding, polishing, lacquering and application of a clear acrylic finish.

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In Honor of Darrell D. WYRICK President, University of Iowa Foundation May 7, 1998 by the following UI Foundation Staff, Friends and the Artist: Elaine Boeding-Engeman, Sue and Frank Cannon, Mary Sue and Ken Coleman, David and Joanne Dennis, Susan and Luke Flaherty, Tom and Becky Gelman, Jeff Harney, Barry Jackson, Della & Duke McGrath and Steve McGrath, Bill Mundt, Susan Spray and Daniel Lee, Joan and Harold Williamson, and Helen Zeller.



Levitt Center for University Advancement (Morse Board Room)

Foundry American Bronze Casting, Ltd. Osceola, Wisconsin

Installation David Dennis | Bill Mudt | Jeff Harney

Photography Jon Van Allen, Iowa City, Iowa

Design Annette Wyrick-Solari, Los Angeles, California

Printer Star Link Co., Inc. Torrance, California


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