Dignified design?

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A planned bronze statue of the Rev. Jacques Marquette, the 17th-century Jesuit explorer for whom the university is named, has not drawn rave reviews from many students.

The statue, which was created by Ronald Knepper, a New York-based artist, depicts Marquette leaving a lake and walking onto solid ground which is slightly higher than the lake waters, creating the appearance that Marquette is climbing. He wears a cape that flows behind him.

Shown a side view and head shot of the maquette — or miniature version — of the planned sculpture, some students said they did not like the statue.

"What's he doing?" asked Molly Corrigan, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. "It looks like he's squatting."

Joe Hasek, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, agreed.

"I don't think you can print what I think he's doing," Hasek said.

Greg Maker, a junior in the College of Communication, said having a statue of Marquette was a good idea, but the design of the statue was poorly done.

"If they're going to build (a statue of Marquette), make him standing," Maker said.

At least one Jesuit did not like the design. The Rev. John Laurance, the acting chair of the theology department, said the newly unveiled statue of Al McGuire outside the Al McGuire Center was a better design than the design of Marquette.

"It's a terribly undignified position for the person whom this university is named after," Laurance said.

However, the statue has its defenders.

"It's very avant-garde, very non-traditional," said Jonathan Scholl, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences. Scholl said he has taken some sculpture classes.

"It looks like George Washington on the Potomac," Scholl said.

He said the appearance of motion that Knepper created was acceptable.

"It fits the period, so I think it's good," said Alicia Nowak, a senior in the College of Health Sciences.

Knepper could not be reached for comment, but in his proposal, he wrote that the statue's "wide-stretched stance anticipates a bridge into the foundation of a newly discovered territory." Marquette's "left boot is still in the lake waters from which he noted the rise and fall of the tides," Knepper wrote. "His right (boot) steps onto the stone foundation on which he will establish missions for his faith … the pose expresses the vigorous command to his mission."

Janet Gottfreid, chief protocol officer in the Office of Public Affairs, said the committee who chose Knepper's structure had asked him to make a few changes to the statue. She said one change was restyling the posture of Marquette to be "more upright," but she was unfamiliar with any idea that Marquette was "squatting."

The maquette of Marquette is located in the Haggerty Museum of Art for viewing. According to a Haggerty press release, the completed statue of Marquette, which could be as large as 96 by 48 by 78 inches, will be placed on campus south of the Raynor Library and east of the St. Joan of Arc Chapel by 2005.

Knepper's design was selected over Omri Amrany's. Amrany is the artist who created the statue of Michael Jordan outside the United Center in Chicago. According to Gottfreid, Knepper's sculpture was chosen based on reactions from museum visitors, Jesuits and the committee itself.

Multiple attempts to reach Curtis Carter, the director of the Haggerty Museum of Art, for comment were unsuccessful.

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