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Three photo display commemorates Jack Trice

Quinn Kelly
Artist and Iowa State Alum (Architectural Design) King Au posing in front of two of his pieces Game Day left and Beyond right Sept. 10, 2023

Three sculptures commemorating the life and legacy of Jack Trice are being featured in the Christian Petersen Art Museum, through interpretation by King Au, an Iowa State graduate and artist. 

The three sculptures, Breaking Barriers, I Will! and Jack Trice come from different eras but share the legacy of one of Iowa State’s most well-known students. 

Jack Trice, featured outside of Beardshear Hall shows Trice the night before his last game authoring the letter that he penned to “whom it may concern,” was commissioned by the Government of the Student Body in 1988.

“You the students commissioned the first Jack Trice sculpture,” said Lynette Pohlman, director and chief curator at University Museums. 

Au was commissioned by Iowa State University Museums to photograph three Trice sculptures on campus, putting his own interpretation to work. Au crafted three photos, which are displayed beside each other in the Christian Petersen Art Museum in Morrill Hall. 

“King came to unite [the three sculptures], and I think it was his vision that brings them all together for the last 35-plus years of Iowa State’s attempt to celebrate and commemorate,” Pohlman said. 

What excited Au the most was the opportunity.

“You can’t submit a resume and get a submission like this, so to me that’s an honor to be asked,” Au said. 

The most intimidating part was doing the work justice, Au said.

“Don’t screw up,” Au said.

The photos were taken by Au, and he used a method of cutting and pasting pieces on top of one another to show his interpretation of the sculptures.

“An image is never completed until you print it,” Au said. “You have to have a reflective kind of way to illuminate it than just a computer screen.”

Au said he aims for his work to make viewers feel emotion. The pieces have been on display since January, and Au appeared Sunday to explain his work and intentions behind specific details of the photos. 

The Conversation 

The Conversation piece created by King Au commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Jack Trice’s passing
Sept. 10, 2023 (Quinn Kelly)

The consistent element among the three pieces is the sky, which Au said represents time and immortality. 

The Conversation is meant to show Trice in his hotel room the night before he played against the University of Minnesota in October of 1923.

“I almost can hear a conversation going on between himself. Jack Trice is having a conversation with himself,” Au said. 

The Conversation includes rectangles showing the various textures of the sculpture, which Au said intrigued him. Au said the textures drew him to the sculpture and said his metaphor for the texture is “part of him—he is Jack Trice, he was a person of character, of a lot of texture, a lot of strength.”

Game Day 

Game Day piece created by King Au commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Jack Trice’s passing
Sept. 10, 2023 (Quinn Kelly)

In Game Day, Trice is shown walking through the gates to the football field and is meant to show energy, according to Au. 

The multiple tickets scattered around the outline of Trice’s body represent confetti, and Au said he thought of the roar of the crowd and the spirit behind Iowa State. Au said he wanted to portray the joy and noise in the stadium. 

The tickets are confetti celebrating “his impact, his sacrifice for himself, for his family [and] for Iowa State University,” Au said. 


Beyond piece created by King Au commissioned for the 100th anniversary of Jack Trice’s passing
Sept. 10, 2023 (Quinn Kelly)

Based on a new-to-campus sculpture, Beyond commemorates a sculpture that allows viewers to get a spiritual connection to the past and synergy for beyond, according to Au. 

Au said being inside the sandstone sculpture reminds viewers of something natural. 

“It has no sense of artificiality about it,” Au said.

Au said the sky represents three pieces: time, time to be made and time from the past. 

“I think if you were to go to the site and see the sculpture, you would agree with me that when you’re in there, there is something very energetic, something very meditational about this piece,” Au said. 

About Au

Au said before he focused on any visuals, the first step was to research Trice and understand as much about his story as he could, as well as the sculptors he photographed. 

The photos were printed and framed in Des Moines and feature float mounts and have a three-dimensional effect with paper curled and pasted on top of the original print. The three pieces will be on display until Oct. 6.

Au is an Iowa State College of Design graduate. Au obtained a master’s degree in architecture and started shooting architecture photography and now is a freelance photographer for organizations such as Lowe’s, Walmart, Wells Fargo and Disney. 

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