The statues of Kent State

The stories behind Kent State’s statues.

“Solar Totem #1”

Molly Cahill

The Don Drumm sculpture, “Solar Totem #1, is famous for being hit by one of the bullets fired on May 4, 1970. It stands between Taylor Hall and the gym annex just down the hill from the pagoda. The statue looks as if it was constructed by stacking thin metal sheets like playing cards.

The brain

Samantha Worgull

Meet me at the brain. A common landmark for students at Kent State, the 13-foot statue made of red sandstone sits outside of Merrill Hall. The statue was designed by Professor Emeritus of Art Brinsley Tyrrell and has been talked about since its placement in 2001. Admirers can follow the stem of the brain to a small plaza containing a smaller brain, a fountain and benches with sculpted books as the backrest. The statue and its surrounding parts are a symbol of knowledge, so take a walk by the brain; maybe you’ll learn something.

“Tilt 2005”

Samantha Worgull

If you’re walking down the University Esplanade, chances are you’ve noticed that giant bird’s nest in front of the Art Building. Just kidding, it’s actually a 6-foot sculpture constructed by artist Steven Siegel and students in 2005. The sculpture looks like a pile of newspapers, but “Tilt 2005” is something much more. The sculpture is made out of 2×4 pieces of wood topped with sheets of paper and covered with dirt, and the center is hollow. Steven Siegel specializes in using items reminiscent of a landfill to create his sculptures. To check out his work, visit

“The Kent Four,” 1971

Lisa Robertson

In front of the now quiet site of the May 4 violence stands a sculpted tribute to the four students killed that day, “The Kent Four,” crafted by Kent State faculty-artist Alastair Granville-Jackson. There is something cold and mechanical about the sculpture, as if the artist sought to capture the violence of the deaths of those four students. Granville-Jackson modeled the top of the piece on the rifle barrels of the guardsmen who opened fire that day, curving the metal bars skyward.

“Walking Together,” 1972

Lisa Robertson

David E. Davis’ sculpture “Walking Together,” located in front of the Art Building, looks at first glance like a giant waterspout. Six brown and rough cedar wood beams are connected with heavy industrial bolts. A single length of chain binds the two raised “arms” of the sculpture. Davis said the work is meant to represent the racial tensions of the era, a representation no one could possibly get without the help of an explanatory plaque.