Campus as Gallery


Artworks grace all corners of campus, from outdoor sculpture to indoor academic and office spaces. The more than 3,500 works in the college’s permanent collection offer students and members of the community an opportunity to interact with and research works spanning five centuries. More than 200 two- and three-dimensional, and new media/video works were added to the collection during the Game Changers campaign.

Silhouette of The Group of Ten by Magdalena Abakanowicz

The Group of Ten

One of the most acclaimed contemporary sculptors, Magdalena Abakanowicz explores the individual’s place within the mass of humanity. Encounter the bronze figures that comprise “The Group of Ten,” commissioned for the college, along a main pedestrian thoroughfare linking the Alvarez College Union and Chambers Building.

Important Distinction

Photo of The Group of Ten by Magdalena Abakanowicz

“The Group of Ten” is perhaps the most misunderstood piece of outdoor sculpture. “People read into Magdalena Abakanowicz’s biography and assume this is a memorial, but it’s not,” says Gallery Director and Curator Lia Newman. “A memorial is constructed for commemorative or symbolic reason while this is a sculpture reflective of this artist’s entire oeuvre. The figures are similar, but unique—presented as a group, which could suggest many things … perhaps strength in numbers while also valuing individuality.” 

Gift of the artist and Katherine McKay Belk, Linda and George Kelly, parents of Win Kelly ’02 and Madeline Kelly ’08, Ginny Newell ’78, and Pat and
B.D. Rodgers

Silhouette of Spirit Waves Fountain

Spirit Waves Fountain

Jesús Moroles’s “Spirit Waves Fountain” became the center of a new outdoor space adjacent to the Sloan Music Center. The artist, who visited campus and spent time with students, died tragically in a car accident in 2015. During his visit, he recorded the audio piece about “Spirit Waves Fountain” for the campus sculpture audio tour. We treasure this preservation of his voice. 

Part of Us

Photo of Spirit Waves Fountain

The “Spirit Waves Fountain” sculpture is more commonly known by students as “the French fry sculpture.” As artist Aristides Demetrios (another artist in the collection) reminds, “You only nickname a person you’re acquainted with.” That is, we have become acquainted with “Spirit Waves,” and have made it our own by nature of its affectionate nickname—we acknowledge the sculpture’s belonging to our campus and have integrated it into our culture.

Gift of Chip McAllister ’61

Silhouette of Waves III by Jaume Plensa

Waves III

The stone and stainless steel sculpture, created by Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa, appears as a loosely defined, seated figure resting on a 7,000-pound rock. Up close, the shape is revealed to be made up of hundreds of interconnected letters and symbols of varying size from many different alphabets. “Waves III” sits at the intersection of several campus walkways.

Getting Noticed

Photo of Waves III by Jaume Plensa

When “Waves III” sustained damage from a fallen tree, it was sent back to Barcelona for repair. When it came back, students gathered at the site to celebrate its return with a full-fledged party—snacks and entertainment by a cappella group Androgyny included.

Gift of James “Jim” G. Pepper ’65

Silhouette of Untitled by Aristides Demetrios


Since the 1960s, Aristides Demetrios has designed, fabricated and installed works of art around the world. “Untitled” bronze sculpture graces a quiet space next to the Carnegie Guest House.

In a Name

Photo of Untitled by Aristides Demetrios

Artist Aristides Demetrios understands that, when works of art become part of the fabric of a place, they may be christened anew by those with whom they share space. Demetrios’s “Untitled” sculpture leaves room for that organic process to take place on Davidson’s campus. 

Gift of the Douglas Shierson family

Silhouette of Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9

Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9

Passersby can’t miss the pop of color provided by furniture designer Vivian Beer’s “Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9.” The slick piece, made with stainless steel, steel and automotive finish, is anchored to a largely hidden cement structure nestled among the trees across from Duke Hall.

Sit on It

Photo of Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9

When “Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9” first arrived, students would glance over at the shimmering bench-like work, unsure whether to approach. Newman says this sculpture is meant to be utilized, “Sit on it—it’s meant to be experienced in a different way than many of the other works on campus.” Now, it’s common to see students lounging on the sleek surface.

Gift of Joseph “Joe” P. Logan ’77

Silhouette of Wind Sculpture (SG) I by Yinka Shonibare

Wind Sculpture (SG) I

From its first showing in New York’s Central Park, where it was initially commissioned by the Public Art Fund, “Wind Sculpture (SG) I,” by Yinka Shonibare CBE, made its way to its permanent home on the Davidson College campus. The solid fiberglass piece is prominently situated in front of the E. Craig Wall Jr. Academic Center. 

Cultural Connections

Photo of Wind Sculpture (SG) I by Yinka Shonibare

The gravity-defying “Wind Sculpture (SG) I” challenges and delights. The colorful sculpture is painted to resemble West African Dutch wax textiles, and invites viewers to contemplate the confluence of cultural currents that form people’s identities—colonialism, trade, globalism—and the character of our community. Shonibare provides the recording about his piece on the campus audio sculpture tour. 

Gift of Pat Rodgers in memory of her husband, B.D. Rodgers Jr.

Silhouette of Walking See Flower sculpture

Walking See Flower

The latest addition to the outdoor sculpture collection occupies a prominent spot in front of Vail Commons. James Surls’ eye-catching “Walking See Flower” stands at 13 feet and is made of painted steel.

Work Ethic

Photo of Walking See Flower sculpture

Nearly a decade ago, enigmatic sculptor James Surls pulled his work out of galleries—he’s sold it himself since. The Texas-born artist relocated to Colorado where “He rises around 4:30 a.m., writes until 7 a.m., walks a short distance to his studio, and works until exactly 5 p.m., stopping as though a whistle blew the end of the shift,” writes Katy Vine in a profile of the artist for Texas Monthly.

A dedication of “Walking See Flower” is slated for spring.

Gift of John Andrew MacMahon ’95

Question mark

Coming Soon

A temporary piece by Patrick Dougherty will be installed between “Waves III” and “Machined Nature: Anchored Candy no. 9” in February 2020. Students, faculty and staff will gather the material and assist
the artist in creating this work of art.

Collective Effort

Photo detail of Patrick Dougherty's work showing sticks and vines

North Carolina-born artist Patrick Dougherty creates monumental-scale environmental works using saplings by the truckload. Volunteers collect the materials and aid in the “stickwork” process. Dougherty’s more than 250 pieces—swirling human figures, domiciles, towering figures built into the landscape—have been seen worldwide.

Gift of Steve ’68 and Marcy Sands


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