It Didn't Just Happen

This is a story about Tom and Bill. Tom and Bill were artists who were hired to paint a mural for the first floor main entrance of Snedecor Hall. The first thing they needed was to find a big enough room to put a 27 ft. wide canvas that had a wall that did not have electrical outlets or lights (protrusions) on the wall behind it. This was not so easy. Eventually, they did find a place in the basement of Tom's wife's studio. The basement was big enough, but it did not have a wall without protrusions, so they had to build a "wall" to support their canvas in the basement of Tom's wife's studio.

In order to gain insight into the operations of the Statistics Department, Tom and Bill toured Snedecor Hall, visiting faculty offices and student pods, looking at their blackboards and whiteboards, their manuscripts and text books and some annual reports. They got many good ideas and inspirations from this and they then began their work and soon were able to submit about 30-50 beginning sketches to the Snedecor Department Mural Committee.

One idea that Tom and Bill were certain of -- was to have the center of the canvas be a head ... a symbol of the brain being the catalyst for everything that begins. They would use "light" to show the "power of thinking". However, they did not want the head to represent a specific gender or culture or look too human. They looked at the history of math, how things began (Greek, Roman, Arabic), and words like ancient, classical, timeless helped them to design the head. They worked very hard on the face. They struggled with the eyes, not wanting them to portray too much humanness, and they struggled with the top of the head -- how to have that represent the explosive power of the thought process. They painted and repainted until they finally thought they captured their desired concepts as best they could.

The different images portray the studies and projects that the department has worked on.

The mural was painted in many layers in order to give it depth and dimension. Tom and Bill knew they wanted the mural to emit a

"brightness", to be "colorful" and to "sparkle".

The swirling cloud represents a cloud of information with raw data to be entered.

The tree, the car, the dollar sign, the baby drinking a bottle, the bolt, all represent raw data from projects with forestry, transportation, economy, nutrition, engineering, etc.
Much more data needed to be entered to the mural. Tom and Bill stopped counting after they had painted and stenciled over 3,000 numbers and greek letters.
After the raw data fields had been entered, they needed to enter formulas on the left side displaying the "outcome". Formulas that really didn't make sense to them, as they were not statisticians. So they worked very hard trying to select formulas that would express the outcome concept of 'order out of chaos'.

When Tom and Bill were finished with the mural and were ready to hang it, they put a horizontal and a vertical line on the center of the back of the canvas, and horizontal and vertical lines on the wall to match them up with. Hanging the mural took many hours and many hands.

The mural took approximately 18 months from it's conception to its completion.

There are many different comments made about the mural. It is a piece of art that certainly draws your attention (in) and invokes a response (out)...hummm, where have I heard that before?

Sherri Martinez, Statistics Department

(Photos courtesy of Tom and Bill)


Inference Drawn

by Tom Rosborough and William Barnes