Sculptures abound on fraternity and residence hall lawns

by Jake Elberg | 2/7/97 6:00am

While renewing a tradition that began in 1927, some fraternity brothers have transformed their houses' front lawns into medieval worlds of snow.

Sigma Nu and Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternities are among this year's entries in the Winter Carnival mini-sculpture contest, which is open to all students.

The Winter Carnival Council has not held the sculpture contest in recent years due to lack of student interest.

Now that it has been rejuvenated, organizer Kim Papa '97 hopes it will be back for good.

"Our hope is that it will become an annual contest," Papa said. "We're looking to have some fun and get some enthusiasm going for Winter Carnival."

The sculpture contest began two years after the first sculpture on the Green was built.

The fraternities then held sculpture contests in which they each constructed a sculpture on their front lawns.

Later, dormitories began to create and enter sculptures in the contest.

This year's competition will have two categories -- a Coed Fraternity Sorority Council division and an open division for residence halls, student organizations and other groups.

The Winter Carnival Council will be judging the contest, and the winners will be announced at the Psi Upsilon fraternity keg jump this Saturday.

"The judges will be looking mostly for creativity and personality and just good building," Papa said. "None of the criteria are written in stone."

In order to encourage competition and in an effort to add tradition to the event, Papa said the winners will receive trophies that will be passed on from year to year.

"We're trying to get some more spirit and fun going between the different groups for Winter Carnival," Papa said. "Hopefully the trophies will promote competition."

The trophies for each of the two divisions will be awarded in addition to a cash prize or gift certificate which has yet to be determined.

A new use for kegs

The brothers of Sigma Nu worked all this week to create a snow sculpture that uses kegs in its design.

Their entry in the sculpture competition is a castle wall made of kegs and "capped in the center by a pair of mammoth gate tarts," Sigma Nu President Michael Smith '98 said.

Sigma Nu brothers discussed building a snow sculpture before the contest was even announced, Smith said.

He said the sculpture is a house tradition that dates back to when the fraternity was Sigma Nu Delta, which is independent from its current national affiliation.

Sigma Nu has not constructed a Carnival snow sculpture for the past few years.

Smith said the alumni who are returning to campus for Winter Carnival will be pleased the house is reviving a tradition.

Sig Ep has continued to build a sculpture over the years although there was no formal contest.

This year, Sig Ep is creating a sculpture which combines fraternity tradition and the medieval theme.

The fraternity's sculpture is of a heart with a sword through it resting upon a tree stump. Behind the tree stump is a wall carved with the fraternity's Greek letters.

Sig Ep Programming Chair Rob Fasani '98 said a sword through a heart is one of Sig Ep's emblems.

Fasani said building the sculpture allowed brothers to meet members who joined during Winter term rush.

"The sculpture is a way for us to build house pride and bond at the same time," he said.

Sculptures of orange juice

The brothers from Sigma Nu are no strangers to the mini-sculpture contest. Sigma Nu was declared the winner of the first two competitions.

In 1928, Sigma Nu won a contest despite rain and unfavorable snow conditions. Phi Kappa Psi fraternity was the only other contestant able to survive the poor weather and enter a statue.

Sigma Nu's winning statue, showing a girl in winter sports attire leaning on a ski pole, was sculptured by D.A. McCornack '29.

In 1947, Delta Tau Delta, now known as Bones Gate, was disqualified from the contest for the best Winter Carnival sculpture because its sculpture of an Indian leaning against the house holding a mug of beer was not free-standing.

Douglas Leigh '46 used pine timbers and one tall slender tree from the river area and secured them into the ground to produce the shape of the figure.

Carved out of two tons of orange juice concentrate, in 1950, Sigma Nu's sculpture of a woman riding a dolphin was shipped 1,500 miles from Florida in a refrigerated train car.

But the statue did not remain standing for long -- brothers spent much of the weekend chipping away at the statue to mix with gin or vodka.