CORRECTION: Mention of the Office of the Provost's "Sculpting Kinsey" documentary was missing in a previous version of this article.
For the 75th anniversary of the Kinsey Institute, Melanie Cooper Pennington, a lecturer of sculpture at Indiana University’s Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design, commissioned a bronze sculpture of Alfred C. Kinsey outside Lindley Hall to commemorate his impact on the university.
Alfred C. Kinsey founded the Kinsey Institute in 1947 with the goal of better understanding all aspects of human sexuality through research and discussion, according to the institute. It merged with Indiana University in 2016 after being funded and supported by IU president Herman B. Wells during its initial creation.
“Many people consider Dr. Kinsey’s largest contribution to our understanding of human sexuality to be his findings on sexual diversity,” Justin Garcia, the executive director of the Kinsey Institute said in an email. “His results expanded our knowledge of the range of human sexual behavior that was taking place in American society and made people more aware of sexual minorities.”
The statue is a true-to-life replica of Kinsey cast in bronze at art foundry Bollinger Atelier, and it was created by IU sculpture lecturer Melanie Cooper Pennington. Her students also helped facilitate the creation of the realistic sculpture.
“What I’ve tried to do with this piece is bring in a contemporary twist and also reference Kinsey’s metaphor of bringing light into darkness,” Pennington said in an Office of the Provost documentary discussing the artwork process.
She said she created the piece to be interactive with those who view it, as Kinsey would have interacted with his 18,000 research participants. The sculpture features a sitting Kinsey with his code sheet, a set of numbers that allowed him to take notes without looking away from the participant, and a chair opposite to it to allow the viewer to take the place of those he researched. The sheet and chair are lit from the inside, allowing the sculpture to remain bright and visually intriguing even on the darkest campus nights.
“I like the idea of memorializing major figures and department heads at IU,” Britta Hess, a junior in the Eskenazi School of Art, said. “It’s nice to be given a physical embodiment of someone who would normally just be in a picture on the wall. It lets us interact with them in a way, which is cool.”
With the addition of Alfred C. Kinsey to the group of bronze statues scattered across campus, IU recognizes and celebrates the legacy Kinsey’s institution left behind.
“My hope is that [the statue] is going to spark curiosity about who Kinsey was, and I hope it creates a new destination on campus that shares a little bit more of the history of the Kinsey Institute so they can keep working,” Pennington said in the documentary. “There’s so much to learn and to gather and to grow from.”