Rising from the ash, this figure is disheveled and visually destroyed. With only one wing, on its left side, how could this figure fly? How could it rise? Only with perseverance and dedication can this angel be standing tall in front of me. But, could the angel be falling from grace rather than rising to meet the viewers gaze? I tend to connect more to the first description, though both are common interpretations. I view this sculpture as a human spirit rather than the more literal term angel. This person’s spirit is tattered; it has been broken down just to the point before pure destruction. Left Sided Angel represents, for me, the spirit of the people and students that cross its path. All students have a moment, or two, in their college careers when they feel lost, disheveled, and broken down.
Locating the sculpture at the threshold of the library allows all students to experience its message. Not only does the location make the message accessible to students, but the anonymity of the figure helps too. The figures face is expressionless and lacks definition. Who is this spirit? Who does this represent? It represents you. It represents me. This anonymity allows the viewer to fill in their own visual information and see the sculpture as an extension of themselves. Visually, the lack of definition helps appeal to people from all walks of life.
After spending a good amount of time with the sculpture I realized that the theme was not meant to be depressing. As you scan the tall bronze figure it is easy to miss the strength that is emitted. Focus on the left leg: in-tact, anatomically rendered, strong. In my eyes, this strength, evident in the figures left leg, represents hope. Hope that through intellectual growth I will rise up through difficult times and be stronger, more dedicated to my life and studies.
As a student this sculpture speaks to me because I am in an important stage of growth, intellectually and emotionally. Aren’t we all in a perpetual state of growth? This is precisely why this sculpture is affective on Iowa State University’s campus. The Left Sided Angel motivates students and university professionals alike. Through appealing to our emotional side, this spirit stays in our hearts and minds long after we leave the library, the University, and as we move on with our lives. The message will always be relevant. Stand tall even when you feel you have nothing left to give. Rise up when you have been broken down, for your foundation is still strong.
-By Libby Grant
-By Libby Grant