This from Sandy Havens, a member of the Fine Arts Department along with Parsons for many years: Definitely David Parsons. I think the piece shown is the study for a much larger work that sat in front of Hamman Hall for a while. And, yes, to Walter Underwood, Parsons did produce the special bricks for the bio and geo buildings. He also did huge mobile sculptures for the exterior stairwells of both buildings. They were seriously damaged by some hurricane and had to be taken down.
And from Marty Merritt at the Shepherd School: David Parsons’s String Quartet moved around campus in various versions. I’m pretty sure that he wanted to raise funds to have a large one cast in bronze, but that never happened. A large black styrofoam (?) one (about six feet in diameter) was in the old Music Library on the third floor of Fondren. (I think we called it the second floor back in those days, but I digress) A smaller styrofoam one about three and a half feet in diameter similar to the one pictured was under the steps of the administrative office wing of Alice Pratt Brown Hall. Parsons wanted it out in the open, but it was lightweight and fragile enough that we thought it needed to be under lock and key. That one went away about four years ago and I don’t know what happened to it.
I had heard Parsons’ name for years and, still curious about him, I came in to the Woodson today to see what I could turn up. A lot, it turns out. Here is a 1981 Sallyport article about him on the occasion of his retirement. It’s extremely interesting. In it he expresses a view of higher education that manages to seem simultaneously old-fashioned and almost shockingly fresh. For what it’s worth it is a view that I largely agree with and one that seems to me even more badly needed today than when this was written thirty years ago. Oddly enough, the reporter’s notes from the interview are also in the file and they are far franker and even more engaging than what appears in the piece. I enjoyed reading them more than almost anything else I’ve come across recently.
Another happy accident: I also found this photo illustrating a different article in an unknown publication. You’ll surely recognize that half finished work to the right.
Bonus: Everyone can eat at Cohen House, but some of us have to eat outside.