By this point in the year most people have probably noticed the rather unusual statue sitting between the library and the FAB: A horse’s skull atop a giant grey slab, staring with empty eyes out at passersby. “Monstrance for a Grey Horse” is artist James Accord’s comment on human’s relationship with nuclear technology. The statue was bought by SU alum Joey King in 2000 from its previous owner, writer Fred Moody, and donated to Southwestern several years ago, though it was finally moved from Seattle to its new resting place last summer after Accord’s death in January.
The statue, which took Accord over ten years to make, is a single one-ton piece of granite that was carved without the use of power tools. Initially he wished to place nuclear waste inside the “monstrance,” and as such became the first and only private individual to ever get a license for handling nuclear material. However, he was unable to actually get any nuclear material, so he resorted to grinding up Fiesta Ware pottery to get the uranium in its glaze.
The name of the piece comes from Catholicism, where a monstrance is the container in which the Eucharist is held between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. In “Grey Horse”, the holy substance is the nuclear waste, and its location is symbolic of the importance society places on such material in the “nuclear age.”
As the newest member of the Southwestern sculpture collection, “Monstrance for a Grey Horse” is not just an unusual eye-catcher; it is also a question over what society chooses to put value in, and what that consequences of those decisions will be.