Along a busy path on main campus, a new sculpture offers students, staff, administrators and visitors an opportunity to pause and reflect. Created by artist Doug Roper and inspired by alumna Athena Martinez who designed the sculpture’s original concept, The Heart of UIW was erected over the summer. It was the result of eff orts by the Student Government Association (SGA), which wanted to gift the University a piece that would stand for generations and honor the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

“We think of our hands as doing work. The hand is a woman’s hand, which is symbolic of the Sisters and of the importance of serving others,” said Dr. Paul Ayala, associate dean of Campus Engagement. “The wave is symbolic of the Headwaters and also symbolic of the fact that Jesus gives us life.”

Ayala and the SGA brought the concept to Sr. Walter Maher CCVI, vice president of Mission & Ministry, who suggested the addition of a commissioned poem to connect the sculpture’s artistry and symbolism.

“Some will see the hand as a representation of God’s presence of love in the world,” said Sr. Maher. “The wave is not just the wave of the ocean, it is the wave of students, the wave of life in a number of ways. The poem invites us to enter the realm of mystery and awe. It is a very symbolic type of creation that calls us to reflect on our beginnings and identity and consider new insights and understandings of who we are.”

Dr. Joshua Robbins, associate professor of English, penned the poem Negative Space inscribed on the work.

“For me, looking at the sculpture, what is most essential is the negative space created by the wave and the hand. That was where the poem emerged,” Robbins said. “It is a space that we can fill as individuals. That is what I am trying to communicate in the poem – the tradition of the Sisters, our relationship to them and what we can do as individuals moving forward to effect change in the world.”

As members of our community move forward through their days at UIW, they pass this new statue and consider their place in the center of the heart.