By Alyssa Huntley
In 1993, ACE approached Jacob Lawrence to use his work, University, to commemorate our 75th anniversary. To continue this tradition of recognizing historic milestones through art, ACE commissioned a sculpture last year in honor of our 100th anniversary, from artist Therman Statom. Statom works primarily in glass out of his studio in Omaha, Nebraska, and has deep roots in the support of education at all levels.
“The ladder is so much about growth and change,” he said. He noted how the ladder can represent the many levels of advocacy done at ACE, but also how it can represent education as a whole, which can mean many different things to different people.
“One of the things I love about education is you can’t generalize it,” he said. It makes sense, then, that he decided not to show an obvious symbol of education. “I didn’t really want to illustrate what ACE was about,” Statom said. Instead, he wanted to illustrate the benefits and values of education without telling the audience what to feel.
“Sometimes people have a tendency to want to read the labels of things before they look at it,” Statom said. “You go to a museum and they see something they don’t understand or they want to understand and they want a specific way to feel comfortable with it. Then they don’t realize they need to trust themselves. … So they read the label and they quit looking at the piece.”
To deter this, Statom has given it a title as unique as the work itself: Lecture de Color. His inspiration came from children he works with at CRCC, a center in Omaha that helps students with special needs and their families. Statom became inspired by the way that color affected how students learned how to communicate and read.
“In many ways, I thought of the kids as reading color,” Statom said. And so the title was born.
At the end of the day, Statom set out to create a unique piece of art for everyone to enjoy and find meaning in, rather than something exclusively aimed at ACE.
“You want an art piece,” he said. “You don’t want a sign.”