Dinosaur Sculpture Looms Large in Langsam LibraryMelissa Cox Norris, Director of Library Communication
The University of Cincinnati’s Langsam Library is the new home for Triceracopter – an impressive half triceratops, half helicopter 30-foot sculpture. Created in 1977 by artist Patricia A. Renick to commemorate the U.S. Bicentennial, Triceracopter: The Hope for the Obsolescence of War combines the form of a triceratops dinosaur with an Army OH6A Cayuse combat helicopter flown in Vietnam. Although a triceratops and a helicopter are unlikely candidates for a single sculpture, the artist has combined them to invite wonder and nudge reflective thinking. The work is immediately recognizable as a formidable bio-mechanical presence, part animal and part machine. In contrast to the stylized curves of the animal are the unmodified parts of the helicopter.
Renick spent three years gathering the materials for the sculpture and completing the work. With help from the U.S. Army, she secured a badly damaged Vietnam-era helicopter fuselage, reconstructing most of it in fiberglass. Other helicopter parts were found and contributed by U.S. Army National Guard units in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
Triceracopter was last exhibited at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center in 1978. This one-person show included another piece of sculpture by Renick, Self-Portrait: She Became What She Beheld. This sculpture is a body cast of the artist sitting on a chair, dressed in work clothing and holding a small concept model of the larger work. Instead of the expected life-size human head, Patricia Renick has portrayed herself with the head of her progeny, Triceracopter. Self-Portrait, also on display in Langsam Library, is placed a short distance from the larger work, facing it as if musing about its birth and destiny, but also “becoming” what she is beholding – artist as dinosaur.
“I was thrilled to see Patricia Renick’s massive Triceracopter sculpture in Langsam Library,” said Robert Probst, dean of the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. “And Pat sitting on a chair in front of her creation, as a self portrait, made me smile. She was such a great colleague, an accomplished sculptor, admired teacher, and artists’ advocate. We are lucky to have Pat back in such a unique way.”
When asked about the fate of these two works, Renick expressed concern about their ultimate destinations. She hoped they would find a home in an academic institution, or be buried deep in a cave where they might later be discovered.
“I am honored that Langsam Library has been chosen to be the permanent exhibition site for Patricia Renick’s Triceracopter and Self-Portrait,” said Victoria A. Montavon, dean and university librarian. “Both works have tremendously evocative power that will be appreciated by generations of UC students and faculty as well as other library users and visitors.”
Patricia A. Renick was born in Lakeland, Florida, in 1932. In addition to being an accomplished artist, she was known for her long-standing commitment to public education. Renick taught at the University of Cincinnati from 1960 until 2000, retiring as professor emerita of fine arts in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. She died May 7, 2007.
Triceracopter is the second dinosaur sculpture created by Renick. In 1974, at the peak of the first major gasoline shortage, she created a large work combining the forms of a stegosaurus and an actual Volkswagen Beetle. Named Stegowagenvolkssaurus, this sculpture can be seen at the W. Frank Steely library at Northern Kentucky University.
Triceracopter and Self-Portrait are gifts of Laura H. Chapman. Chapman is a consultant and writer on art education. She taught in undergraduate and graduate programs at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and The Ohio State University.
More information about Triceracopter and Self-Portrait, including an essay by Laura