Balance of Life</i>, detail<i>

Public Art in Iowa

The State of Iowa has a rich art culture that includes many wonderful works of public art. These artworks may be commissioned by the state, by private organizations, or even by generous individuals, and can be found at airports, in hospitals, schools and universities, and even alongside highways! The Daily Palette is happy to feature these works created for the enrichment of our communities and the delight of our visitors.

Balance of Life, detail, Stone, glass, gold, and painted wood panels, 30' x 80', 1998

Ned Smyth is an internationally known artist who makes his home in New York, working from a studio on Shelter Island. In addition to his remarkable work at Iowa State University, he has created more than 30 public works since 1977, from Thousand Oaks to Savannah, and Anchorage to Gainesville! His smaller-scale work has been featured in national and international exhibits, including the Venice Biennale, the Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshorn Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Playwright Edward Albee describes his work: "The pieces I saw in his studio are precisely what they are, devoid of metaphor. They are not 'about' something; they 'are' something, and the something they are is determined by how well we see . . . and how we see." Visit Mr. Smyth's website to see more of his marvelous art!

Balance of Life was commissioned courtesy of the Art in State Buildings program, and is located in Iowa State University's Kildee Hall, home to the university's renowned Department of Animal Science. The spectacular mosaic greets visitors as soon as they enter the building, and depicts cattle, pigs, and poultry in various stages of development. Scenes showing students and faculty interacting with these animals are "decorated" with images of ordinarily microscopic chromosomes. As the ISU University Museums explain on the webpage for this mural, "Smyth intended this mosaic to document the work of animal science on the walls of the Animal Science Building in the same way that primitive man drew images of hunting and rituals on cave walls." Follow the link below to learn more!

Iowa State University Balance of Life

Ned Smyth online

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