Bioethics Sculpture in Rolfing Library


Adam Creating Himself

Adam Creating Himself

This fall, the library is displaying a sculpture which is on loan from the Tennessee Center for Bioethics & Culture. It is part of a 3-sculpture series that is traveling to different campuses. In future semesters, we will host the next two sculptures, also related to bioethics.

Artist Karen Swenholt describes her inspiration for the sculpture:

 When I turned a corner at the art studio and saw all the slabs of recycled clay stacked up by the potters, I laughed because I flashed on the idea of Adam atop them pulling himself together. Then I built the image. Today’s educated human embraces the concept that he/she is a cosmic accident, but even that concept has the tincture of self-creation. It is revealed in educational programs aimed at children and at the hoi polloi. I have always been amused by nature shows where the announcer says something like, “And then the beaver began to broaden her tail because it had become so useful for swimming and dam building.” The tone of these productions is that each species is somehow its own creator as if Mrs. Beaver is sitting up late at night knitting her DNA into a broader tail.

Man is willing to give these powers of self-creation to the creatures because he desperately needs NOT to be created. It is crucial that there not be a higher moral being/creator to whom he must answer. The concept is an affront to his pride and a terrifying threat to his autonomy. I call this piece Adam Creating Himself, Darwinian Pride. He is one of the first up in my Seven Deadly Sins exhibition.

Karen Swenholt, Artist

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