The Sculpture: Celebrating the Power of Reading-Designed by Professor Albert LaVergne
Professor Albert LaVergne is a Fulbright Scholar and a Professor Emeritus from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, United States. He arrived at the University of Ibadan on August 4 2016 upon approval from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural affairs on a ten month fellowship term to construct a metal sculpture titled “Reading is Knowledge; Celebrating the Life of Nigerian Families”.
The metal sculpture in essence celebrates the power of reading among Nigerian families. It consists of four objects; father, mother and their child with a dog. The sculpture emphasizes the role of mother as the pillar of the family. It shows the strength of a woman in multitasking. The sculpture speaks to the strength of a family; father and mother involving in the educational foundation of the society. According to Professor LaVergne, the Sculpture talks about the father who is happy and ready to do anything to help his family as he is head of the family. The man is there to protect the family, help and provide for the family as well as help the wife in the home. The woman is the queen of the house. She does the house chores, takes care of the child and the man and together they are happy. The dog is seen as a pet rendering service to humans.
From the sculpture, the dog nicknamed ‘Iwalewa’ is presenting a book to the boy ‘Akinkowe’, the book is handed over to the mother ‘Omolewa’ and lastly to the father ‘Akintunde’ who is the head of the family. This shows the co-operation and life that is present among Nigerian families. It also connotes that reading is a collective responsibility of all including domestic pets. In the words of the Sculptor himself, he submitted thus; “on the sculpture, there is no repletion, the family represents Nigerian culture, it goes beyond just a family. In essence, it brings about enthusiasm, dialogue, culture in the Nigerian families”.
The sculpture was unveiled and commissioned on 14th March, 2017 at the University Heritage Park by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abel Idowu Olayinka accompanied by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Professor Emilolorun Aiyelari.
After completing the sculpture, Professor Albert LaVergne also has a mandate to offer seminars on a large-scale sculpture installation technique and plan to continue his comprehensive instructions to the University of Ibadan students on the technical skills and safety practices of his unique metal fabrication techniques.