Brock lore: Sculpture causes controversy

She Wolf at Brock University

Coined by Brock employees and students as the Rhino, the Cannon, and most popular, the  Bullet, over the years the She Wolf sculpture has acted as a central meeting place for student lovers, friendly hangouts, and at times, drunken debauchery. It’s also been the source of heated controversy.

She Wolf arrived on Brock’s campus in 1992 as part of The Teutloff Collection. In 1988, Lutz Teutloff, director of a commercial art gallery in Germany and collector of works by international artists, along with then-president Terry White, developed a plan by which Brock would accept 12 works of art as a loan from Teutloff. The works would be carefully chosen by Teutloff – works that he felt were particularly “open” and accessible to students and other viewers in an educational context like a university.

Upon its arrival, She Wolf was met with controversy and outrage. Members of the Fine Arts Committee and other members of the Brock community were unhappy they were not consulted about the acquisition.

“The Fine Arts Committee was mandated to help Brock create and follow through with a vision for what the institution should collect – Canadian art,” said Lesley Bell (BA ’88, BA ’90), visual resources librarian at Brock University. “Which this sculpture and others immediately arriving at Brock were decidedly not.”

People were also upset at She Wolf’s appearance. “Without interpretation,” said Bell, “the appearance of the work gave it a sinister, cartoonish meaning.”

What’s more, according to a Brock Press article dated Dec. 2, 1992, “Pat Wilson said the term ‘She Wolf’ in Latin means prostitute, and Stella Slade stated that the Women’s Studies department wants the statue removed.”

But once the controversy cooled and explanations about the work’s meaning circulated, the Brock community began to appreciate its campus artworks. “It seemed a new piece was arriving on a yearly basis,” said Bell. “The community came to anticipate a new arrival with curiosity. The university even produced a small brochure that invited people to take a walking tour of the sculpture collection.”

Facts about She Wolf:

  1. Brock University Visual Arts professor Derek Knight coordinated an informative illustrated book about the Teutloff Collection in 2002. In the publication, essayist Mark Daniel Choen, director for the Drew University Semester on Contemporary Art, explains the sculptor Ilan Averbuch’s intentions. “She Wolf is the head set on its side — dislocated, thrown off its kilter, positioned to permit a view of its interior, which is hollow, without substance, empty. The form also resembles a missile, a weapon of destruction, as well as the she wolf of the title — a clear reference to the legend of Romulus and Remus, sons of Mars, the god of war, who were raised by a she wolf and who became the founders of ancient Rome, and thus of civilization.”
  2. Wasps love the cozy wood interior of She Wolf and students congregating in and/or around the artwork risk being stung.
  3. She Wolf was a target of graffiti once, which presented a real headache. Bell said “the sculpture is clad in copper that forms its own protective oxide, turning blue-green. In stripping the paint, the oxide would be stripped as well. Brock’s Department of Facilities Management had to consult with a conservator and they did a great job without noticeable harm done to the work.”

To see what other Brock grads had to say about She Wolf, check out December 16th’s Facebook thread at facebook.com/brockalumni

Do you have any rumours, tales or Brock lore to share about She Wolf? Do you have any suggestions for future Brock lore topic? If so, please comment on this article.

Posted on January 24, 2011

8 Comments

  1. Matt Clare says:

    My favourite names was always “the bee’s bottom” - which I think is appropriate given the amount of wasps that it has living in it in July and August.

  2. GG says:

    I’ve always known this thing as the She Wolf because very early on I walked right up to it and read the plaque on the ground in front of it.

    You know, as strange as this thing is, and as odd as it may appear, it’s been in such a prominent place for so long that I feel Brock wouldn’t be the same if it was ever replaced.

  3. Student says:

    This statue is a part of Brock. It is art, and while it may offend some that is what art is meant to do, provoke a reaction from its viewers. Is Brock not a liberal arts school? Are we not part of discussions in seminar everyday on controversial issues? University, to me, is about thinking, discussing and learning. If this statue can cause over a decade of discussion, is it not achieving what our professors should be trying to stimulate in our classes?

  4. Graduate 1995 says:

    I was in my second year at Brock when the She Wolf was installed. It rapidly became known amongst my friends as the “Boob-on-Legs” or the “Giant Tit”. While it is controversial, it is a part of Brock and it has an uplifting message, “Here we are at the start of our adult lives just like Romulus and Remus gave birth to civilization as we know it.” And where would the brothers have been if not for the care of the She Wolf?

    The bee hives on the other hand are a little disconcerting and do need to be addressed.

    The sculpture I take issue with is the “Parade of French Fries” otherwise known by it’s creator as the “Endless March”. Black steel I-beams bent forwards under the weight of carrying such a heavy load - yeah that’s happy. When under the gun studying for winter term exams, this is a depressing message to send to students, “No matter how you do on your current exam, you will always carry the burden of the next test in life.” The fact it was stationed outside of Isaac’s leads one who is fragile to consider inebriation or suicide.

    I do hope the Endless March has been circulated off the Campus by now.

  5. Alumni says:

    I’ve always thought it would have been cool if Brock had more statues and monuments recognizing and commemorating the War of 1812. How about instead of the She Wolf, a 30 foot statue of Isaac Brock riding a rearing-up Alphie with sword drawn, as if charging into battle? Could also produce statues to other 1812 heros/heroins: Laura Secord, Tecumseh, etc. and place them around the campus - all military leaders would be facing due south (as if to be keeping a constant watch over the Amerians…) Especially given that we’re approaching the 200 year anniversary it would be great to see.

  6. Sohail Ahmed says:

    I think Brock needs to invest more energy in adding meaningful monuments and statues to our campus. I also think students enjoy articles like this which explain the history of our current ones! A campaign to spread knowledge about the current monuments to our current students perhaps?

    I think it is especially important to the entrance of the university which i think needs a major investment! (Not a trendy enterance, we need a traditional enterance like Western.. or Stanford or USC, etc)…

    Maybe we should do something similar as Waterloo did back in November?

    Back in November:
    \uWaterloo invites students to fix campus entrance: Yesterday the University of Waterloo launched a design competition for ideas and plans to improve the main entrance to the south campus, which has long been seen as uninspiring, even bland. The provost’s office will put $100,000 toward the implementation of the winning plans, which will be selected by a panel in May 2011\

    Speaking with some Board of Trustee members, they do agree we need a statue of Sir Isaac Brock on our campus and we actually explored the cost of it as well (expensive but not unreasonable)….. one member did mention that there is controversy if we were to put a statue of Tecumseh … He believed if we if we put a Sir Issac Brock statue that it must be accompanied with Tecumseh… (which i agree) but apparently (research needs to confirm this), some Natives are opposed to statues of him?

    Anyways…. I really hope another initiative is launched like the one Terry White - Brock President in 1988 did as mentioned in the article above.

    Students love monuments and statues on campus!

    Sohail Ahmed

  7. 5191564 says:

    As a History Major student, the peculiar structure has piqued my interest. Sometimes, I have found myself asking questions such as: “What exactly is that structure?”, “Where did it come from?”, “Why the intricate design?”, and “How old is it?” This page has answered some of the questions I have frequently asked myself, but some remain unanswered. The idea that the structure may be the “she-wolf” belonging to the myth of Romulus and Remus is cute, but I don’t think it’s actually the she-wolf. If it were, then it’s probably just the teats of the wolf, that the twins used to suckle on when they were being raised by the wolf. For my own personal interest I will research more into this topic.

  8. Devon Gribble says:

    I really like the cannon, it reminds me of the good ol days after swimming lessons when me and the pals would head inside and just kiss the afternoons away.

    In all honesty, it is such a nice structure, would hate to see it go.

    –Devon Gribble

Leave a comment

 

Switch to our desktop site