A new endowment at Ohio Wesleyan promises to beautify the campus in honor of the donor's parents.

In the coming years, students, staff and visitors to Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware are likely to notice an increasing presence on campus: public art. That’s thanks to the recent $300,000 gift to the university honoring the memory of the late Everett “Ebb” and Ernestine “Teena” Haycock from the couple’s daughter and son-in-law, Lorry Haycock Luikart and Jack Luikart, both OWU alums.

Ebb, a professor of fine arts at OWU from 1949 to 1985, helped create the university’s foundry and cast metal program, and he sculpted several prominent pieces displayed on campus, including The Oracle and a bust of baseball Hall of Famer and OWU alum Branch Rickey, according to a press release. Teena worked in the OWU Department of Speech and Theatre in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The first piece sponsored by the Ebb and Teena Haycock Public Art Endowment is already in place—the Gears and Wrenches Bike Rack outside the school’s Ross Art Museum. The 300-pound stainless steel sculpture was created by OWU faculty member Jonathan Quick in the Haycock Building, also named in Ebb’s honor. We reached out to Ebb’s daughter Lorry, who answered questions about her parents and the vision for the endowment via email from California, where she and her husband live.

When did the idea for this endowment first come about? What inspired you and your husband to fund it?

Both my parents passed away recently, and we were quite surprised by an inheritance they left us. All those years of frugal living, orchestrated by my mother’s amazing money management skills (including joining a stock market club in the ’80s) had paid off. My husband and I felt we wanted to give back in a way to honor both of them and the aesthetic they passed on to us.

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Was their frugality a trait of their personalities and relationship, or were they saving with something specific in mind for that money?

I think their frugality was born out of the Depression. My dad’s dad was a carpenter, and my mom’s dad was a farmer and coal miner. In both families, if you needed something, you made it. I grew up surrounded by art inside and outside our home on Westgate Drive in Delaware. Having sculptures that my dad made, in the garden that my mom tended, was natural to me and my brother and sister. Inside our home, my dad’s sculptures were complemented by the furniture and furnishings my parents made: built-in cabinets, sofas, cushions, pillows, drapes. While we lived a frugal lifestyle, our environment seemed rich to me.

I saw that you have a fine arts degree. Did your father influence your decision to pursue that?

My parents did influence me to pursue a BFA degree with a teaching credential. I taught kindergarten through ninth-grade classes in the Cleveland area for several years. When we moved to San Francisco, I started taking sculpture classes and now enjoy making figurative ceramic pieces at a sculpture co-op where I belong.

Was creating this endowment something you ever discussed with your parents?

We didn’t have an opportunity to talk with them before they passed away about this endowment idea, but I’m sure they would be thrilled. During Dad’s career, the projects he would get most excited about were commissions to create public art (the bigger, the better). After his stints in Italy working in a bronze foundry in Milan, his dreams were of making monumental abstract bronze sculpture. In 1989, he had the opportunity to make The Oracle, located on the OWU campus on the walk between the Beeghly Library and the Chappelear Drama Center. In 2010 he made a piece for the lobby of Willowbrook Assisted Living where he and my mom lived their final years. I believe both my mother and father would be thrilled to see art pop up on campus, bringing joy to so many, as a direct result of their hard work.

The press release mentioned you wanted to see some of the art created from recycled or upcycled products. Is that something you or your father has done in your art?

Hopefully we will see pieces created from recycled or upcycled materials bringing attention to questions of consumerism and environmental protection. Without any specific intent towards upcycling, dad often welded pieces from scrap materials. We have a 6-foot-tall abstract piece in our home, which he made from discarded car bumpers (from the ’60s when bumpers were still metal).

Will the artists who make pieces for the endowment be connected to OWU in some way? How often will you commission new pieces?

I am on the committee to select public art for campus along with art faculty and the Ross Museum director. A member of our family will continue to be on the selection committee. I foresee work by faculty artists, alumni and non-alums chosen. Ideally, we will see others add to our endowment so that we can purchase from the income received and not deplete the principal. My hope is that we can see a new piece installed at least every two years. … Our next piece is under discussion.

Why do you think it’s important to put funding and focus on creating public art for a campus setting?

As more public art emerges on campus, the environment will be enriched, igniting imagination and encouraging thought and discourse. (This dovetails perfectly with the city of Delaware’s recent public art initiatives.) Recognition for OWU and the city will grow. We would love OWU and Delaware both to develop reputations as art communities.

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