A Shadow of David Parsons

I opened up a folder and was instantly disoriented by this photograph. I wasn’t even sure for a while which end was up but I think this is right:

New removed sculpture biology nd


It’s the east stair tower of Anderson Biology, looking straight up. The aluminum tubes arranged in a circle are part of what was an enormous, intricate floor-to-ceiling mobile by Rice art professor David Parsons, which has been gone for quite some time now. There were originally two, both installed outside in the elements. The other one was in a Geology stair tower and was destroyed by, I believe, Hurricane Carla. It was amazing that this one stood as long as it did.

Bonus: In the east tower of Anderson Biology, a ghost.


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6 Responses to A Shadow of David Parsons

  1. Richard Schafer (Lovett '73) says:

    Are there any pictures of the mobiles?

  2. almadenmike says:

    Hurricane Carla was in 1961, and it seems that at least the biology mobile was in place in late 1963, when the Nov. 20 Thresher reported that part of it had been stolen:

    Thief Gets Mobiles

    Pinkerton has flashed again this week. Four paramecium-shaped models were stolen from the bottom of the modernistic mobile in the Biology Building. The theft was discovered Monday morning by David Parsons, assistant professor of Fine Arts and the creator of the mobile.

    The stolen objects were described as forms of square wire twisted into the form of a a microbe and plated with gold. Each contained a small glass nucleus. It is not known how long the models have been missing,but Mr. Parsons would greatly appreciate their return.

    (Source: https://scholarship.rice.edu/bitstream/handle/1911/66367/thr19631120.pdf?sequence=1, page 4.)

    (Bonus: The article next to the theft story tells of the design of then-new University of California campus in Santa Cruz, The new campus included a different take on residential colleges and is “laid out to accommodate an eventual student body of 27,500.” Today its enrollment is ~17,200.)

  3. Owlcop says:

    I remember as a kid playing at David Parson’s house in Bellaire with his son Todd. You never knew what you would discover in the jungle like undergrowth of the large property. It was like playing at the Addams Family house.

  4. Pingback: HMRC Thursday: Parsons’ Bricks Attract National Attention, 1957 | Rice History Corner

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