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Thursday, December 5, 2019

Opinion

‘The Statue of Four Lies’ is a fun, interesting art installation


“The Statue of Four Lies” should be decorated again, as this is a good way to show school spirit. | File Photo

The University of Houston’s “The Statue of Four Lies” is among the most notable of the vast collection of outdoor art that decorates the campus. It’s rife with misinformation, looks strangely ominous, is surrounded by peculiar little details and claims to house a time capsule to be opened on the University’s 100th anniversary.

Despite all this, the most interesting aspect of the statue is how students interact with it and that they do at all.

On Oct. 12, the Cougars squared off against the Cincinnati Bearcats in a game of football. In an effort to display their excitement and school pride, the Coogs of CV3, an unofficial spirit organization, teamed up with the Art Guys to decorate “The Statue of Four Lies” by painting the statues red and white and displaying a flag behind them that read the now post-ironic phrase, “Ya Woo Cougar Football.”

And, honestly, it looked pretty good.

Unfortunately, not all news surrounding the statue is happy. Michael Galbreth, one of the statue’s designers, recently passed away due to complications during surgery. Cougars dressing up and posing with the statue in ways similar to the Coogs of CV3 would be a great way to honor the memory of this legendary UH alumnus.

Interacting with the statues and dressing them up has been a tradition since their unveiling in late 2010, and the artists wanted that. They designed the art piece with the intention of it continuously seeing new attention and being treated lightheartedly.

This was best exemplified by the statue’s grand unveiling on campus. What could be compared to a circus or a county fair was held, complete with magicians, musicians and a petting zoo to mark the beginning of what could only be described as a giant, secret joke among Cougars.

As an aside and in the spirit of full disclosure, researching this topic is a nightmare. Most sources seem to gather information from the statue’s website, which has been inactive for over seven years, but the date of the unveiling has been widely inconsistent, ranging from September 2010 to early 2011.

This raises questions about the validity of other information surrounding the statue. It would be entirely believable and appropriate if an art installation named for lying intentionally had misinformation spread about it.

Some of its history, however, is definitely true. For one, the two models the statues are based on are their very own designers — Jack Massing and the late Galbreth, two Cougars themselves and otherwise known as the aforementioned Art Guys.

The models being the statues’ own creators is hilarious when put into context, as its name is in reference to Harvard’s “Statue of Three Lies,” which was intended to be modeled after the university’s founder. The irony displayed by the artists created a stark contrast between Harvard’s founder and the statue itself.

Additionally, Massing and Galbreth’s intentions were to out-do Harvard, claiming that Texans could tell more lies than “those Yankee upstarts,” furthering the up-punching hilarity.

Such an entertaining history has led to one of the most fun and interesting pieces of art on campus. Interacting with and observing the statues is fun in a way that can’t be accomplished by most art, and witnessing the occasional decorations placed by other Cougars is always a treat.

It’s a fun tradition, and hopefully it will stick around for the foreseeable future for the sake of school spirit and to uphold of Galbreth’s wishes for his art.

It’s a bizarre piece of art, too, in the best possible way. It certainly has more than four lies. Its ominous nature is strangely inviting, the little details may or may not mean anything at all and the time capsule, for all anybody knows, might not have anything in it or be in the ground at all.

This would be hilariously fitting, given what the statue’s creators envisioned for it. Its mysteries will continue to stump and confound onlookers who seek a meaning that may not be there at all.

Opinion writer Kyle Dishongh is a finance junior and can be reached at [email protected]

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