By Roo Rusk, Staff Writer
The entrance of DeMattias Fine Arts Center recently had one of its oldest and most notable art displays removed. Its statue of “Lady of Justice” that stood at the foot of the stairs was taken out of the building on March 2 and will not be returning. It had been on display in the building for more than 15 years. Left in its place for some time were uprooted tiles, police tape and a large soup kitchen sign covering the area; however the area has since been re-tiled.
Students and faculty alike were surprised to see the statue removed.
“A few days before she left, I saw the maintenance staff measuring her, then when I saw them load her up and take her out on March 2 I was surprised. That was the first I heard of anything,” Mark Mannette, the director of theater, said.
Mannette said he was not aware of the development from any prior emails, meetings or otherwise.
Though “Lady of Justice” had been at Newman for some time, it was technically not permanent property.
The statue was relocated to Salina, Kan. by the family of the man who previously owned it.
“We did not actually the sell the ‘Lady Justice’ statue as we did not own it. It was on loan to the university. The sculptor recently passed away and the executor of the estate asked if we wanted to purchase the piece. While we did love it, the price they were asking for the piece unfortunately wasn’t in our budget.” said Vice President for Finance and Administration, Jennifer Gantz.
Junior theatre student Lucas Farney had strong opinions on its departure.
“I was sad to see her go. The statue itself of course meant justice to me. In a hand that was held back, she carried a sword and in the other hand, sticking forward and up, she held a scale. This was always very poetic and beautiful to me. First of all, because it represents balance, something we can’t live without. Second, it showed that justice was a more powerful weapon than the sword, than violence.”
The statue also had involvement in the theatre department itself within DeMattias.
“I loved that statue. I always thought it was very cool. We even used her on a poster when we produced Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure,’” Mannette said.
He said he felt the figurine was a good fit for the building and for Newman itself.
“I thought it was appropriate that she was in the Fine Arts building and that she wore a necklace of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.”
PHOTO: LADY LIBERTY stood in the entry of DeMattias for 15 years. Roo Rusk, Staff Writer