After more than 25 years of travel – from the White House Garden in Washington D.C. to Kalamazoo, Michigan – a Truman Lowe original sculpture has found its home in Madison. On Friday, UW-Madison unveiled Effigy: Bird Form and celebrated Lowe’s long career. WORT contributor David Ahrens was in attendance and captured some audio of the event.
Truman Lowe was an acclaimed Ho-Chunk artist who worked as a fine-arts professor at UW-Madison for decades. He was also a curator of contemporary art for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian for many years. He passed away in 2019 at the age of 75.
His colleague and friend, Beloit College Professor Emerita Jo Ortel, wrote an art historical analysis of Lowe’s work in 2003 titled – Woodland Reflections: The Art of Truman Lowe. She says that his Native American culture factored strongly into his art, “It was both an intuitive decision and a conscious one. He was aware of the arts and crafts traditions of the Ho-Chunk Nation. He was drawing on that type of heritage.”
Larry Sailing collaborated with Lowe to create Effigy: Bird Form more than half a century ago. He says the sculpture is in the abstract shape of a bird in flight, with narrow wings and a broader body.
Sailing and Lowe worked on a number of projects together. As Custom Metals Shop Foreman at Hooper, Sailing would go over the sculptor’s plans and help him execute the final product. As a result, Sailing had a lot of insight into Lowe’s creative process and his personality. He says, “Very soft spoken, laid back, easy going. He had a great sense of humor. He was a pleasure to work with – he was one of the guys, I would say.”