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The Spirit of Indiana x Bollinger Atelier

Written by Daniel Mariotti

Photographs by Daniel Mariotti and Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics

“We are able people of integrity who play by the rules.
 We are well in mind, body and spirit.
 We reach our highest academic potential and earn Indiana University degrees.
 We reach our highest athletic potential and win championships.
 We are unselfish leaders and teammates.
 We represent Indiana University with passion, appreciation, respect and distinction.
 We are positive, responsible, inclusive and integrated with our University.
 We are a part of something bigger than ourselves.”

Spirit of Indiana – 24 Sports, One Team

These are the words written on the Indiana University Athletics page. The Spirit of Indiana is a creed that emphasizes the importance of community and collaboration and is the name chosen for a new large-scale bronze sculpture in Indiana.

Bollinger Atelier was chosen to help The Spirit of Indiana expand from just words spoken, to a 4,830-pound sculpture that stands on Miller Plaza at the south end of Indiana University’s Memorial Stadium.  The bronze sculpture sits atop a circular base featuring five young student-athletes from different sports, coming together before taking the field. The symbolism of coming together as one from different backgrounds is a narrative BA gravitates to.

The new space called Miller Plaza was made possible by a major gift from IU alumni Pat and Mike Miller in 2016. This gift was used to develop the 66,575 square foot facility including the prominently displayed sculpture in the plaza.

Man and woman standing in front of large bronze sculpture

“…the new art piece symbolizes the commitment to the team over self that has been a staple of IU Athletics for generations. We are pleased to dedicate this piece to all past, present, and future IU student-athletes, and appreciate the efforts of so many in creating something that encapsulates and embraces what it means to be a student-athlete at Indiana University.”


*In photo: Pat and Mike Miller in front of Spirit of Indiana sculpture at BA

As a contemporary art foundry BA greatly understands the importance and power of working as a team, especially over the past year during the pandemic. BA is lucky to have such committed and hardworking artisans that helped push many projects, including this one, through the uncertain months. By following the CDC guidelines we were able to continue working without any of our artisans getting exposed to Covid-19 while also shifting work schedules to accommodate production and personal needs.  Training artisans to be able to step into any department and help when needed shows the type of teamwork valued at BA.  This cross-disciplinary training also helps inform artisans of their specialized area of expertise by understanding why certain methods are used that helps the departments after theirs.

clay and bronze hands of spirit of indiana sculpture
Image of original scaled hands provided by the artist and the final replicated bronze version

The artist, chosen by the University through direct selection, used current and former IU athletes as models. However, not all of them could be in person and they had to heavily rely on photographs to reference the details. Production of the larger-scale figures began immediately after receiving the molds from a New York foundry.  Each figure had about 6 pieces molded with the heaviest pieces weighing in at around 170lbs. A two hoist system was used while all hands were on deck making sure rolling the pieces went smoothly and effectively. With the 30 pieces rolled, dressed, gated, and dipped, over 3250 lbs. of bronze was poured for the project. As deadlines were tight, BA was able to exceed the expectations of those involved while also managing unexpected changes.

With the help and collaboration of IU, the Spirit of Indiana sculpture was installed over 2 days where it got announced to the public for the first time on March 10th, 2021. It now is prominently displayed as a symbol of resilience, strength, and importance of team over self.

The artist says, “While no one could have foreseen just how challenging 2020 would turn out to be for our school, our country, and the world at large, it is clear that this monument meets the moment,”

They continue, “The spirit of teamwork and self-sacrifice that most of us and certainly healthcare workers have had were essential to getting us through the darkest days of this pandemic. These values are first instilled in many of us through sports and that is why this monument represents much more than meets the eye. The production of this monument is the result of a huge collaborative effort, so teamwork is echoed from the making to the meaning of the Spirit of Indiana.”

BLOOMINGTON, IN – MARCH 10, 2021 – Spirit of Indiana Statue in Miller Plaza in Bloomington, IN. Photo by Missy Minear/Indiana Athletics